The Syrian army fanned out in Deir al-Zor on Wednesday, using heavy weapons and reportedly hunting down a list of 364 activists against the Bashar al-Assad regime.
On a day in which Turkey upped its diplomatic pressure there appeared to be no letup in the repression, with 11 dead reported in the city of Homs and armour entering the towns of Taffanaz Ibid and Sermin on the Turkish border.
Tanks and troops did pull out of Hama after a 10-day siege which reportedly left 100 people dead. It followed a visit from Turkey’s foreign minister who held six hours of talks with al-Assad during which Ahmet Davutoglu brought a message from his prime minister insisting that the violence end immediately.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan later in the day, speaking at a party conference in Ankara condemned the Syrian state for turning its guns on its own people, and said he expected reforms to begin within 15 days. It was his strongest intervention so far in the five-month crisis.
The White House added its weight to Syria’s increasing isolation, slapping sanctions on two Syrian banks and the country’s largest mobile phone operator. President Obama also said Syria would be better off without al-Assad, and promised to keep up the pressure on the regime.