Arab League to push Syria plan at UN
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said Thursday he would brief the United Nations Security Council on a plan to end 11 months of bloodshed in Syria, dpa reported.
Al-Arabi and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who heads an Arab committee on Syria, would seek to rally support for the plan among the council's member countries at a meeting set for Monday in New York.
The council has been unable to take action on the Syrian crisis, ongoing since last March, due to opposition from China and Russia - Damascus' key allies.
Arab foreign ministers at the weekend called upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to delegate his powers to his deputy.
They also proposed an interim government, including the opposition, to prepare the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.
Damascus dismissed the proposals as a violation of national sovereignty.
Al-Arabi Thursday renewed his call for the Syrian government to stop further acts of violence against opposition protesters.
He said an Arab observer mission, sent to Syria in December, was working "under very difficult circumstances."
The observers Thursday toured Irbin, an area on the outskirts of Damascus, where angry residents demanded they leave, according to activists.
"We want freedom. We do not want you," the activists quoted the protesters as shouting.
The Syrian opposition has accused the observers, whose mandate was extended this week by another month, of giving al-Assad's regime a diplomatic cover to pursue a crackdown on protesters and rebels.
On Thursday, at least 12 people were killed in violence in several areas in Syria, according to activists.
Government forces Thursday cracked down on a flashpoint area near Damascus, where they arrested more than 200 people, said the activists.
"Syrian security forces were dragging up young men and pushing them inside military trucks," a resident, who lives in the area of Douma, told dpa by phone.
"I saw boys whose ages do not exceed 15 years blindfolded inside the trucks as they drove past my house," he added.
Government forces have been shelling Douma since the early hours of Thursday, killing two people and wounding eight, including two women, said the activists.
The area has in recent months become a hub for anti-government protests and a hideout of army defectors.
A joint army and police convoy was Thursday ambushed near the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh on the Syrian-Jordanian border, reported the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Four soldiers were killed and five injured in the attack, added the London-based observatory.
It reported that a woman had been killed by sniper fire in the central city of Hama, while a stray bullet killed a 14-year-old boy in the southern province of Daraa.
Three more people were killed in the central province of Homs, according to the observatory.
Meanwhile, the Syrian state news agency SANA said an army colonel was Thursday shot dead by "armed terrorists" outside his house in Homs.
The UN estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising erupted in mid-March.