Syrian security forces are shooting soldiers who refuse to fire on protesters, a journalist in Damascus reported. In Washington, the United States has condemned “repression in Syria – after more than 200 were killed.

“Katherine Marsh,” a pseudonym for the journalist in Syria, wrote in the London Guardian, “Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers after he refused to shoot at demonstrators demanding personal freedom.

“Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, … [sic] signs of defections will be worrying to Syria's regime,” Marsh wrote.  

Syria sent its soldiers, armed with automatic rifles, into the village of Banias as the uprising spread despite the murder of more than 200 people over the past month. Marsh quoted human rights groups as saying that at least five people were killed in Banias so far this week and that hundreds of people have been arrested.

The regime of President Bashar Assad is known to be one of the most brutal in the Muslim world, and his secret police keeps a close watch on citizens while restricting Internet access.

The United States has defined Syria as a country that sponsors terror for several years now, and Hamas’ world headquarters are in Damascus. Nevertheless, U.S. President Barack Obama has tried to “engage” Syria since taking office two years ago, and Washington had maintained a tolerant tone towards protests until Friday, even sending an ambassador for the first time in six years.

After reports that 19 civilians were gunned down, President Obama said, “The arbitrary arrests, detention, and torture of prisoners that has been reported must end now, and the free flow of information must be permitted so that there can be independent verification of events on the ground."

Assad bragged three weeks ago that the Muslim uprisings, which toppled Egypt’s and Tunisia’s regimes and still threaten others, would not reach his country because he is “in tune” with the needs of the people.

Events have proved him wrong, as demonstrators broken through the “wall of fear.” Like their compatriots in Egypt, the protesters in Syria continue to risk torture and death to demonstrate for their demands.

Tens of thousands have rallied in the streets of Syria, and eyewitnesses told the Associated Press Wednesday that approximately 2,000 women, carrying white cloths and olive branches, blocked a main coastal highway. They are protesting the arrests of demonstrators in Banias and neighboring cities.

Human rights groups also have charged Damascus with preventing medical personnel from reaching the towns. Syria denied the charges, and repeated its accusation that the demonstrators are "armed gangs" loyal to foreign forces trying to spread seditious dissent.