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Syrian forces mobilise as protesters plan "day of defiance"

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Syrian forces mobilise as protesters plan "day of defiance"
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Syrian opposition groups are planning what they call a “day of defiance” against the regime.

In response the army is reported to be taking up positions near several towns in a show of strength.

New pictures posted on the internet are said to show Deraa in the wake of the government’s 11-day crackdown.

The streets are largely deserted, cars lie abandoned after being destroyed, and residential buildings appear to have been riddled with bullets.

Human rights groups say tanks and snipers were used and there were mass arrests and beatings.

The authorities blame “armed terrorists”; state media says caches of weapons were seized.

The army says it has now withdrawn from the town where Syria’s uprising began, although reports quoting residents claim some forces remain.

As the government threatens to tackle dissent elsewhere, there are reports of tanks and troops being deployed around the coastal town of Baniyas. Hundreds of people are said to have been fleeing the area.

On Thursday security forces went into a suburb of Damascus, reportedly detaining over 200 people.