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Page last updated at 06:34 GMT, Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:34 UK

Inside Syria's 'windowless basements'

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Syria authorities have banned foreign journalists from entering the country, but Times' chief foreign correspondent Martin Fletcher attempted to enter the country as a tourist.

He was arrested by the authorities, taken to a windowless basement beneath an apartment block down a barricaded side-street in the city of Homs.

While the Times journalist was treated politely, during his six hour detention he saw the workings of the security regime.

In the basement, he saw piles of belts and shoe laces and scores of young men sitting huddled on the floor. During his detention more young men were brought into the room.

"Quite clearly what was happening, was the regime was rounding up any young man of fighting age it could find on the streets and locking them up," he told Sarah Montague.

The city outside was clearly under marshal law, with police and armed thugs on every corner and tanks guarding every major intersection on the roads.

Outside the city, he saw at least 100 tanks, waiting in readiness for further protests.


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