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Syrian troops backed by tanks and heavy armour have stormed the southern town of Deraa and also Douma, a suburb of the capital Damascus, resulting in many deaths and dozens of arrests.
Security forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the country's president, have also continued a crackdown in the coastal town of Jableh for a second day.
An activist said late on Monday that 18 people had been killed in Deraa alone.
However, the government insists the army was invited in to rid the town of gunmen.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Damascus, said the troop deployment was an "unpreced