20 killed in Syria as opposition members attacked in Cairo

20 killed in Syria as opposition members attacked in Cairo

At least 20 people were killed Wednesday in Syria, by government security forces, who continued their operations, mainly in the central cities of Hama and Homs, dpa reported.

Lebanon-based activist Omar Idlibi told dpa that more than 40 people were injured in various violence across Syria.

Security forces dispersed protesters in the coastal city of Lattakia who were expressing their support for people in the flashpoint province of Homs. Another protest was held in the southern province of Daraa.

Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council has been urging for a general strike on Thursday across Syria to protest what they described as "brutal killings" in Homs.

A group of Syrian opposition figures were attacked on Wednesday outside the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo, where the delegation was set to meet with the league's chief.

The protesters, some of whom are exiled, said that they attacked the opposition figures because they do not represent Syrians. The attackers further accused them of being loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who is seen as being behind many of the recent anti-democracy crackdowns in Syria.

Only one member of the delegation, Hassan Abdel Azim, the coordinator of the National Coordination Committee, managed to enter the Arab League and meet with Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi.

Al-Arabi told reporters after the meeting that his meetings with all different opposition groups is part of an Arab League plan that aims at ending eight months of unrest in Syria.

"The Arab League is open to any Syrian, and we will listen to opposition groups representing exiled figures or dissidents within Syria," al-Arabi said.

He rejected claims by several sides that the Arab League initiative has failed, coming after the Syrian authorities continued their crackdown on protesters despite informing the 22-member organization that they had accepted a peace plan.

The delegation of the National Coordination Committee, which is made up of dissidents from within Syria, were greeted in Cairo by demonstrators who threw eggs at them.

Minor clashes also erupted between the two sides. The incident highlights divisions among the Syrian opposition, who cannot agree on whether to hold a dialogue with the government or not. Other groups support a Libyan-style military action in the country.

The committee believes in dialogue with the government. Its members do not press for the ouster of the president, unlike the Syrian National Council, which groups members of exiled opposition movements.

A cousin of President al-Assad criticized the opposition in Syria, saying that the unrest would continue as long as the opposition remained divided.

Ribal al-Assad told the Algerian Al-Khabar newspaper that a united Syrian opposition might encourage the Syrian army to side with protesters demanding an end to al-Assad's rule.

"The army officers will not take a decision to overthrow president Bashar while they are faced with a divided opposition that suffers from lack of awareness, and that could turn against them," he said.

Ribal is the son of Rifaat al-Assad, who is widely blamed for allegedly leading an army offensive to suppress a 1982 Sunni uprising in the city of Hama, where up to 20,000 people were killed. Rifaat was forced into exile in the late 1980s after a failed attempt to seize power from his older brother, then-president Hafiz al-Assad.

Popular protests demanding the ouster of Bashar al-Assad, who took power after the death of his father Hafez in 2000, began in mid-March and were met with a violent government crackdown that the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people.

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