On Sunday, Syrian security forces tanks intensified suppression of anti-Assad demonstrations, including at one all-female protest, in which four women were shot dead.
A senior Western diplomat quoted in the guardian said Iran is advising Assad on how to crush dissent, citing an increase in the number of Iranian personnel present in Syria since protests began. Tactics similar to those used by Iran include door-to-door raids, which have increased in past weeks, and blocking mobile and communications and internet service. According to the diplomat's assessment, Iran is concerned about losing its most important ally in the Arab world, and its conduit for supplying weapons to Hezbollah. Syria's population is 75% Sunni, while the ruling Assad family hails from the Shia minority. Iran's regime is the bastion of Shia Islam in the Arab world.
Over 800 people have been killed since demonstrations began in mid-March.
So far, the US and European Union have enacted sanctions on Syrian leaders but have refrained from calling for Assad to step down. Foreign media have been banned from the country.