Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, former ambassador to Washington

Reports are emerging in international media which suggest around 3,000 soldiers and tanks have entered the southern city of Dara’a and taken up positions in the town.

The city had been largely peaceful since a civic delegation from the city presented their requests for reform to President al-Assad. The army and intelligence forces subsequently withdrew from the city.

In the north-east, unusual floods in Hassakeh led to the deaths of six people which the state news agency SANA said was the result of heavy rainfall over the weekend.

The region has been one of the worst affected by the drought, which in turn has been the worst and longest drought in over 40 years.

SANA reported the deaths of seven security personnel in Nawa at the weekend as well as two others in Moadamiya and Homs.

Accusations against the Lebanese Future Movement political bloc have taken a new turn, the London-based Palestinian daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports.

Former Lebanese MP Wiam Wahhab claims to be in possession of documents that show Saudi financing of a network of Lebanese politicians and disaffected Syrians which aims to overthrow the government.

Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi royal allegedly behind the affair, has denied involvement of the Saudi government in Syria’s internal affairs.

Following the most wide-scale violence in Syria since protests began in March, international organisations have been calling for increasing pressure on the government.

The US-based rights organisation Human Rights Watch shifted its position from condemning apparent violent crackdowns on demonstrators, to calling for a UN inquiry and further sanctions from the EU and US, reports the Associated Press.

International pressure on Syria has been publicly mounting in recent weeks in the face of what President al-Assad called a “major conspiracy” against the country.

Meanwhile Syrian lawyers, jurists, ‘human rights activists’ and religious clerics told SANA that excersising freedoms under the new laws cannot include acts of violence, which must be punished under criminal law.

According to a group of lawyers, the abolition of emergency law and the Supreme State Security Court “reflect a commitment to reforms” and “bolster the role of institutions” which has created “an atmosphere of satisfaction” within the judiciary.

In the past two days “dozens” of people have been reported missing and are suspected detained by the authorities following “Great Friday” – the name given by protesters to last Friday’s demonstrations.

In other news, following repeated calls for national unity by the government and declarations by the ‘local committees’ – groups claiming to represent the protest movement – against sectarian division, Christian leaders renewed calls for unity during Easter celebrations in the capital.

A small protest of around 300 people was held outside the Al-Jazeera news channel’s bureau in Damascus The state news agency quoted a protester saying "al-Jazeera is a kitchen of sedition and a factory of conspiracy."

Tishreen newspaper, and most other Syrian newspapers and TV channels, continue to report that ‘eyewitnesses’ who talk to the foreign media are impersonators whose aim is to broadcast misinformation.

The state-run daily also reported today that the uncle of one of the “martyrs” killed in Jouber said he believes his son was killed by “armed gangs” and not the security forces, as has been reported by Al-Jazeera.

Syria Today (Syria)