Syria Forces Amass Ahead of Major Protest Crackdown, Activists Say

Anti-Assad protesters say Syrian troops deployed in central cities of Hama and Homs, as well as the southern province of Daraa.

Syrian troops have amassed in several areas across the country that have been at the centre of the uprising against the government of President Bashar Assad, Beirut-based
Syrian activists said Thursday.

The activists said troops were deployed to the central cities of Hama and Homs, as well as the southern province of Daraa, flashpoints in the security crackdown on protesters in recent months.

Syria protest - Reuters - 16.9.2011

"They are preparing for a wide-scale operation in these cities again," one activist who requested anonymity told the German Press Agency DPA in Beirut.

The activist said security forces were targeting and attacking the families of activists and sympathizers of the protesters who first took to the streets in mid-March.

"The Syrian security forces and their dogs, the intelligence, are not sparing anyone in Syria, if they look for an activist and they cannot find him in the country they go to his family, attack or arrest them, just to put pressure on us," he said.

According to a statement released by the Syrian Human Rights Committee, the parents of internationally-known pianist Malek Jandali were attacked in their home by pro-government militiamen. The 39-year-old German-born musician who grew up in Homs has often expressed support for the protesters.

The committee said in its statement that it held al-Assad's government responsible for the attack and called for an end to "barbaric and unjustified acts."

State television meanwhile reported the arrest of members "of an armed terrorist group" at a farm in Daraa, saying security forces had "confiscated a big quantity of explosives and remote-control bombs."

According to the report, "the goal of the terrorist group was to plant the explosives in crowded civilian areas to kill a large number of citizens."

Security forces have killed some 2,700 people, including at least 100 children since the anti-government protests began in mid-March, according to the United Nations.