DAMASCUS, Syria, May 10 (UPI) -- The Syrian government expanded its crackdown on anti-government protesters Tuesday, observers said.
Columns of Syrian army tanks moved toward the city of Hama as part of the latest crackdown on protests there and witnesses said arrests continued in Homs and Baniyas, the BBC reported Tuesday.
Syrian officials said the government is fighting an insurrection by "armed terrorists" and deployed troops and tanks to protect civilians.
On Monday, the army moved into Muadhamiya, where a human rights activist told the BBC at least three people were killed and many others wounded.
Foreign journalists have not been allowed to enter Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule began, making reports difficult to verify independently.
The European Union said it instituted an embargo on exports of arms and equipment that could be used against anti-government protesters by Assad's regime. The bloc also imposed a visa ban and froze assets of 13 Syrian officials and associates identified as being "responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population," the BBC said.
The United Nations said it was becoming more concerned about the situation in Daraa, which has been isolated since troops and tanks were sent there two weeks ago. A humanitarian mission was denied access to the city Monday, said Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.
Amos said government officials provided no reason for the denial. She said she was assured relief .teams would be allowed to enter Daraa "later this week."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 621 civilians and 120 security personnel have died since pro-democracy demonstrations began in March. However, Syrian rights group Sawasiah reported more than 800 civilians have been killed. The government disputes the civilian death toll and said about 100 soldiers have died.