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Syrian forces step up crackdown

Syrian security forces strafed the streets of the southern city of Daraa with machine guns Tuesday and the government cut off water supplies as the death toll since Monday's crackdown rose to 25, a witness said.

Snipers took up posts on the roofs of schools and mosques, said the witness, Mohsen, who spoke by satellite phone and declined to give his surname out of concern over reprisals. He said he and other residents have pulled the bodies of 14 people from Daraa streets and saw 11 more they couldn't remove because of sniper fire.

President Bashar al-Assad's decision to end the emergency rule and his pledges of future political and economic measures have failed to halt the spread of demonstrations.

At least 400 people have been killed since protests began in mid-March, Ammar Qurabi of Syria's National Organization for Human Rights said. More than 1,000 people have been detained since Friday, bringing the total number held since the unrest started to at least 2,000, the Arab Organization for Human Rights said.

Washington has begun drawing up targeted sanctions against Assad and his inner circle and is conferring with European countries and the UN. All nonessential U.S. staff and families of embassy workers have been told to leave the country.

-- Bloomberg News, with AP

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