34 killed as Arab League hopes for UN support for Syria plan
At least 34 people were killed across Syria Sunday as Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi left for New York seeking support from the United Nations for a plan aimed at achieving a peaceful power transfer in the country, dpa reported.
Al-Arabi said his organization was in contact with China and Russia, Syria's two key allies, to win their support for the Arab plan, which calls for a two-month transition to a unity government in Syria, with President Bashar al-Assad giving his deputy full powers to work with the proposed new government.
Damascus has rejected the proposals, saying they would violate its sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers are to meet in Cairo on February 5 to discuss the fate of its observer mission in Syria, sources in the pan-Arab organization told dpa.
Ministers are to decide whether to pull out their observers or extend their mandate, the sources said.
The 22-member organization suspended its monitoring mission in Syria on Saturday due to rising violence.
On Sunday, clashes erupted between army defectors and government troops in the northern province of Idlib, killing 14 members of the regular army forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Activists said that 13 people were killed in the Damascus suburbs area. More people died in the restive areas of Homs, Daraa and the capital Damascus.
Deserters seized control of parts in the dissident central province of Homs, following clashes between the defectors and government forces in the town of al-Rastan, the observatory reported, quoting a defector.
More than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since a pro-democracy uprising against al-Assad's regime erupted last March, according to the UN.
However, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday the world body could no longer keep track of the death toll in Syria due to an escalation of the violence.
Damascus blamed "terrorist groups" for inciting violence in the country, since protests demanding the ouster of al-Assad erupted in mid-March.
The state news agency SANA reported that six army soldiers were killed in an attack by "terrorists" near the capital Damascus.
The attack was carried out by remote-controlled explosives planted in a hostel used by a military unit, added SANA.