"Forces wearing black and carrying AK-47s deployed today in the hills. Armored personnel carriers passed by the highway adjacent to Banias at night," Anas al-Shaghri told Reuters from Banias, which has seen intensifying pro-democracy protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
"We are expecting an attack any moment. We will receive them at the gates with our bare chests," Shaghri said.
Syrian protesters chanted "the people want the overthrow of the regime" a rights campaigner in contact with Banias said.
"Our demands are peaceful. If they kill us, our souls will rise from our graves and demand freedom," Sheikh Anas Airout, a preacher in the city, told 2,000 to 3,000 protesters, according to the rights campaigner.
While Syrian security forces are preparing for a possible attack in the Banias, a Syrian human rights activist has claimed Tuesday that the schism within Bashar Assad's army is growing.
"Soldiers from the fifth division of Syria's army have deserted their posts, joining us in our stand against the besieging army at Deraa," said Abdullah abu-Zeid in a call to the Frnch news agency. There is no official evidence to support these claims.
The Syrian human rights activist's claims were made after a report in Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida from an "insider" source who claimed that the fifth division of the Syrian army under the command of General Mohammad al-Rifai, a resident of Deraa, refused to open fire at the protestors.
It was also reported that "gun play broke out between soldiers of the division and soldiers of the force under the command of Maher Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad."
News Agencies contributed to this report
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