BEIRUT – Syrian tanks, security agents and pro-regime gunmen fanned out into the streets of several towns to root out protesters demanding the ouster of President Bashar Assad in a sweep Saturday that killed at least five people.

The heaviest assault was in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia, where a day earlier thousands had turned out in protests. At least 20 tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into the city’s el-Ramel neighborhood amid intense gunfire that sent many residents fleeing the area, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Later in the day, shooting and explosions were heard in another neighborhood, Slaibeh, according to the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group that documents protests in Syria, which has banned most foreign media.