Arab ultimatum nears end as Syrian forces attack restive areas
An Arab League ultimatum to Damascus, to accept the deployment of monitors or face sanctions, was nearing an end Saturday as Syrian forces shelled the dissident province of Homs, according to activists based in Lebanon, dpa reported.
They said the shelling targeted the restive Homs district of Baba Amr. There were no immediate reports about casualties.
A wide-scale government crackdown was, meanwhile, being carried out on the town of Maaret al-Nemaan near the border with Turkey, in a search for army deserters who had attacked military facilities, added the activists.
The Arab League ultimatum to Syria to halt its lethal clampdown on pro-democracy protesters was to end by 2200 GMT on Saturday.
More than 3,500 people have been killed in the crackdown since mid-March, according to the United Nations.
The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, said Friday that Syria had requested amendments to the organization's proposals, making it unclear whether it had accepted the plan.
An Arab diplomat based in Beirut told dpa Saturday that Damascus had demanded 18 clauses be amended in the plan.
"Syria is refusing to allow monitors into hospitals and prisons. It also does not want civilian activists among the monitors," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
According to him, Damascus was insisting that Syrian security and army personnel accompany the monitors during their mission.