The Syrian government continues to crack-down on pro-reform protesters, with Monday's death toll reaching between 11 and 25 people during a demonstration in Daraa, according to varying reports.
Thousands of soldiers backed by tanks poured Monday into the city where the five-week-old uprising began, opening fire indiscriminately on civilians before dawn and killing at least 11 people, witnesses said.
The offensive was planned in detail with electricity, water and mobile phone services cut off and knife-wielding security agents conducting house-to-house sweeps.
Witnesses said busloads of troops poured in before dawn and snipers took up positions on the roofs of houses and high buildings while other security agents searched houses for suspected protesters.
"We need international intervention. We need countries to help us," a witness in Daraa told the Associated Press on the phone, adding that he saw five corpses after security forces opened fire on a car.
Watch tanks shoot at civilians in Daraa
"Let Obama come and take Syria. Let Israel come and take Syria. Let the Jews come – anything is better than Bashar Assad," he said, playing on Syria's hatred for Israel to highlight how much town residents despise their leader.
Meanwhile, the White House stepped up its condemnation of President Bashar Assad's regime, but stopped well short of demanding the ouster of a leader some US Democrats had considered a potential reformer and peace broker.
The US State Department on Monday told American citizens to leave Syria as soon as they can and ordered some personnel at the US Embassy in Damascus to depart the country.
Roee Nahmias and Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report
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