3 Americans arrested in Syria,

Three Americans have been arrested in Damascus in recent days, and two are still being held, the US State Department said Tuesday, amid two weeks of unprecedented dissent in Syria.

“We can confirm the recent arrest of three American citizens in Damascus and one of whom has subsequently been released,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Despite a request from US embassy staff in the Syrian capital no consular official had been given access to the detained Americans, he added, refusing to give any further details.

“Our embassy consular officials have been in contact with Syrian authorities and continue to request consular access,” he added.

State media on Sunday said an American citizen had been detained, accusing the person of stirring up anti-government protests.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the Syrian government on Tuesday for the harsh way it had responded to pro-democracy protests.

“In a series of side meetings I also had the chance to discuss a number of issues, including Syria,” Clinton said after a London meeting of international powers on Libya.

“I expressed our strong condemnation of the Syrian government’s brutal repression of demonstrators, in particular the violence and killing of civilians in the hands of security forces,” she added.

Syria’s autocratic regime was this week facing a grave test of its four-decade rule as a protest movement gathered momentum across the country, demanding freedom, widespread reforms and an end to repressive rule.

President Bashar al-Assad was expected this week to make his first public statement since rolling demonstrations began in mid-March. For some mysterious reasons his appearance has been postponed 3 times within so many days without any explanations . He was first supposed to address the Syrian people last Sunday. According to the most recent report he will address the parliament on Wednesday .

More than 150 people – almost all of them demonstrators – were thought to have been killed last week. The most severe clashes were reported in the southern city of Daraa, near the Jordanian border and in the port city of Latakia in the north.

AFP, Reuters, Ya Libnan