Syrian authorities, on Monday, set a deadline of 15 days for people who had committed “unlawful acts” to surrender, as 180 people were rounded up.
The ultimatum came as activists planned fresh anti-government demonstrations following the deaths of dozens of people in weekend protests.
In a statement, the interior ministry told “citizens who have participated in or committed unlawful acts such as bearing arms, attacking security or spreading lies to surrender by May 15 and hand their weapons in to the competent authorities.”
Security forces arrested hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in cities across Syria after taking control of the city of Deraa, cradle of the uprising against President Bashar Al Assad’s autocratic rule.
Looking for men under 40 years old, security forces broke into houses on Sunday in the old quarter of Deraa that a tank-backed force led by Assad’s brother Maher shelled into submission the day before, witnesses said.
The state news agency Sana said on Monday army units tracked down “terrorist groups that have terrorised civilians (in Deraa)…and killed 10 of its members and arrested 499 of them”.
Sana quoted an army source as saying that in addition to the 10 dead, security forces also killed five snipers who were shooting at pedestrians. The source told Sana that two members of the security forces were also killed in clashes.
Syrian protesters deny that they have weapons and are using them in the unrest, targeting 48 years of Baath Party domination in Syria and inspired by other popular Arab revolts that have overthrown the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt this year.
Prominent rights campaigners were also arrested in the eastern cities of Qamishli, Raqqa and in suburbs of Damascus, along with scores of ordinary Syrians active in the mass protests demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption.
Syrians kept up protests despite the arrests and violent repression that has resulted in the killing of at least 560 civilians by Assad’s security forces, human rights groups say.
In the central city of Homs, thousands marched on Sunday chanting “downfall of the regime!”
In Rastan to the north, a funeral was held for 17 men killed when military intelligence agents fired at a protest on Friday during which the names of 50 resigning members of Assad’s Baath Party were being read out.
Syrian forces also arrested a prominent human rights lawyers in the city of Raqqa after he criticised the authorities’ reaction to anti-government protests, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory said Abdallah Khalil was arrested on Sunday by Military Intelligence agents at the Place of Justice in his home city of Raqqa.
Meanwhile, Turkey has beefed up humanitarian measures to meet a fresh wave of refugees expected from unrest-hit Syria, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Agencies