On Monday the Syrian army advanced into the southern city of Deraa. In a statement the government said troops had been deployed on the request of citizens who were worried about "armed extremists".

Opposition activists accused the regime of crushing peaceful protests by force, claiming that raids on Deraa and Douma , involved as many as 5,000 soldiers and several tanks. They also said that tanks surrounded the Omari mosque with snipers firing from rooftops.  

More than 20 people are reported to have been killed on Monday, raising the total death toll to more than 350 people in the month-long protest. There have been numerous reports of crackdowns and arrests across Syria over recent days, despite the lifting of an emergency law last week.

Inside Story presenter Dareen Abughaida discusses with guests: Najib Ghadbian, a professor of Political Science at the University of Arkinsas; Hassan  Nafaa, a professor of Political Science at Cairo University; and Ian Black, Middle East editor of The Guardian newspaper. 

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera