Syria widens army action in crackdown on restive region

The New York Times reports:

The Syrian military expanded its deployment of forces to restive regions in the north and east of Syria on Tuesday, as hundreds of civilians displaced by the crackdown huddled in muddy olive groves near the Turkish border, where some lacked shelter and food, residents said.

The scenes on both sides of the border, a 520-mile frontier that Syrians can cross without visas, brought yet another dimension to the three-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Unfolding Tuesday was the repressive force of the state, with reports of more arrests, along with the consequences of thousands of lives uprooted.

“Not even my mother would recognize me,” complained Saeb Jamil, one of the Syrians who fled toward Turkey and said he was stranded with hundreds of others.

The crisis of displaced Syrians, along with the relentlessness of the crackdown, has drawn growing international condemnation, thrusting Syria’s leadership into some of its starkest isolation in its four decades in power. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a friend of Mr. Assad’s, urged him yet again to end the crackdown in a telephone call Tuesday.

But so far, the Syrian government, led by Mr. Assad and a tight-knit, opaque circle, has signaled its intention to repress by force what it describes as an armed, religiously motivated uprising and what activists describe as a largely peaceful protest against the oppression of one of the Arab world’s most authoritarian states.

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