In what many news outlets are calling an escalation of the military campaign against Syria's seven-week-old pro-democracy uprising, President Bashar al-Assad has sent tanks into Homs, a city of one million people 100 miles north of Damascus, in a deadly incursion, according to Reuters (the photo above shows protesters in the central city during Friday's bloody 'Day of Defiance'). Al Jazeera adds that security forces are arresting demonstration organisers and participants in house-by-house raids in Homs, the Mediterranean coastal city of Baniyas, villages near the southern hotbed of Daraa, and several Damascus suburbs. Two people were also reportedly killed by security forces during this night rally in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour yesterday:
The New York Times reflects on the significance of today's headlines, arguing that the "breadth of the assault--from the Mediterranean coast to the poor steppe of southern Syria" appears to "signal the government's intent to end the uprising by force," even though "officials have continued to hint at reforms, and even gingerly reached out to some dissidents last week." As the Syrian regime increasingly resorts to force, the Times adds, they've also cut communications to besieged cities, silencing the human rights groups and activist networks that foreign journalists rely on for news about the uprising. "It seems that they've gotten better in tracking satellite mobile phones," activist Wissam Tarif tells the paper.