May 5 - Syrian army units tighten their siege of two urban centres in a sign of widening use of the military to crush anti-government protests. Paul Chapman reports.
++++REUTERS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT OF THIS VIDEO++++ PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Amateur video purporting to show tanks on the move in Syria was posted on the Internet. Its content couldn't be independently verified by Reuters. But reports say Syrian army units, backed by tanks, have tightened their siege of two key districts around Rastan town and the city of Banias. It's a sign President Bashar al-Assad may be widening his use of military might to crush demonstrations against his rule. More amateur video also posted on Wednesday shows a demonstration and signs of tear gas in the street. The video location was said to be Damascus. Human rights groups say at least 560 civilian protesters have been killed since the uprising began on March 18th. They say the army, security forces, and gunmen loyal to Assad are behind the slaughter. Syrian authorities say the unrest is caused by armed groups and infiltrators who've fired on civilians and security forces. The demonstrations in Syria began with demands for political freedom and an end to corruption. Assad's response - repression and an offer of limited reform - led to demands for his removal. His use of escalating force to counter such demands suggests reconciliation is not an option he's considering. Paul Chapman, Reuters