Syrian troops using terror tactics on protesters

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees sit in front of their tents on June 18, 2011 at the Boynuyogun Turkish Red Crescent camp in the Altinozu district of Hatay, near the Syrian border.
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Syrian troops, backed by tanks and machine guns, once again stormed into a border village to attack their own citizens on Saturday.

It happened just hours before Syrian President Bashar Assad is set to address the nation, allegedly to announce reforms.

While Syria's citizens wait to hear about those alleged reforms, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports that Syrian security forces are using especially harsh terror tactics not just on protesters, but their families as well.

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When Army troops used tanks and a fleet of military busses in their attack on the town of Bdama today, they made dozens of arrests and burned the homes of people thought to be disloyal.

If shooting into crowds doesn't stop the protesters, perhaps the roundup of their families will. CBS News heard this story repeatedly from Syrian refugees sheltered in camps in Turkey. In cell phone videos done for CBS News, protestors wounded during demonstrations were all certain if they were identified, their homes would be destroyed and their loved ones would pay the price.

Samir, 34, a demonstrator shot in the leg 3 weeks ago who helped CBS News tape videos of the protests, said his fellow dissidents are afraid to show their faces because they know the Syrian government would kill their families and their children.

When Samir was shot and unable to walk, he never even considered treatment in a Syrian hospital. The refugees say Syrian soliders were waiting at the hospital to arrest the injured demonstaters and take them away to be tortured.

Samir said he was willing to be identified because most of his family is out of Syria. His 2-week-old son was born in the refugee camps and he's enraged at Assad personally for the pain he's inflicted on the innocent.

In a message for Assad, Samir said while holding up his son: "What did this boy do to you? What right do you have to take him from the home of his grandfather?"

Assad was the Syrian leader who was supposed to bring reform, a man different from his ruthless and brutal father. Assad will announce his new plan for the country as early as Monday, but a harsh reality to many Syrians is that he learned from his father all too well.

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.