Bombs kill 14 prisoners in Syria as Arab League mulls mission
Bomb attacks killed 14 prisoners travelling in a police vehicle in north-west Syria on Saturday, as the Arab League mulled whether to extend the mandate of its observer mission, dpa reported.
State-run SANA news agency said two bomb blasts targeted the vehicle between the towns of Ariha and Idlib, where the Syrian army has been fighting rebels. Some 26 detainees and six security officers were wounded in the explosions, reported SANA.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa the vehicle was hit by several roadside bombs, but it was not clear who was behind the attack.
Arab foreign ministers were to meet in Cairo on Sunday, to mull whether to extend by another month the mandate of an Arab League mission sent to Syria last month to monitor implementation of a peace plan. On Thursday, the mission concluded a report on the violence.
"Many Arab countries favour the idea of extending the mission's mandate to give one more chance to the Arab initiative to end the violence in Syria," a Beirut-based Arab diplomat told dpa.
The Syrian opposition, which says the mission was manipulated by the regime and provided a diplomatic cover for the Syrian government to pursue a crackdown on rebels and protesters, is preparing its own report on the violence.
The opposition believes the Arab League report will be skewed in favour of the government.
"Given the circumstances under which the mission worked, it is doubtful its report will be objective," Syrian National Council head Burhan Ghalioun said in Cairo.
Ghalioun asked Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi during a meeting in Cairo to refer the Syrian crisis to the United Nations Security Council.
Activists reported fierce clashes between the Syrian army and rebels near the border with Turkey. Nine army defectors fighting alongside the rebels were killed in the fighting, activists said.
Government forces also killed 10 people in the restive provinces of Homs, Hama and Daraa, activists said.
They added that some 18 bodies were found in a morgue in a hospital in the north-western town of Idlib, near the border with Turkey.
Security officials in neighbouring Lebanon said the Syrian navy killed a 14-year-old boy and arrested two Lebanese fishermen, in an incident near the maritime border between the two countries.
Angry residents in the northern Lebanese town of Arida blocked a highway linking Lebanon and Syria with burning tyres, witnesses said.