The Guardian reports:
Syrian tanks and gunmen have swept through two towns to root out anti-government protesters amid heavy firing that has sent many fleeing to safer areas.
Three people were reported to have died in the violence, the latest in an escalating campaign of repression by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against an uprising that erupted in mid-March. The heaviest assault was reported in the coastal city of Latakia, where a day earlier thousands turned out to demand the president’s removal. At least 20 tanks and armoured personnel fanned out into the city’s el-Ramel district as intense gunfire rang out, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Shooting and explosions were also heard in the town’s Slaibeh neighbourhood, according to the Observatory and the Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria, an activist group that documents protests. Two people were killed in the shooting, they said. Scores of security agents and pro-government gunmen, known as Shabiha, entered the town of Qusair, near the border with Lebanon, and several nearby villages, arresting scores of residents, Abdul-Rahman said. LCC Syria said that one person was killed in the shooting. It was not possible to verify the reports.