The morning began in Daraa, Syria with tanks rolling into the southern city, and it's now winding down with activists putting the death toll there at 25. In a Reuters report earlier today, Daraa residents claimed the military was pounding the town with machine gun fire and tank shelling, cutting electricity and telephone lines, dispatching black-clad snipers to government buildings, seizing mosques, and leaving bodies strewn in the streets in an escalation of its crackdown against pro-democracy protests.
But the official Syrian Arab News Agency is telling a different story. The state media outlet, citing a military official, explains that military units entered Daraa at the request of Daraa's citizens, who wanted to end "killings" and "vandalism" perpetrated by "extremist terrorist groups." The agency reports that the military arrested several members of these extremist groups and "confiscated huge quantities of weapons and ammunition," and that there were "martyrs" among the security forces as well as the extremist groups. SANA's other lead story explains the funeral preparations Syrians across the country made today for military "martyrs who were targeted by armed criminal groups while in the line of duty."
As the violence mounts in Syria, U.S. officials announced that the Obama administration is considering imposing sanctions on Syrian officials, while European and American officials passed arround a draft U.N. Security Council statement condemnding Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protesters and urging an investigation into reports of deaths.