11 killed in Syria protests, while shaky ceasefire holds
Thousands of Syrians protested on Friday in a test for the government's pledge to a United Nations-backed truce, that remained shaky on its second consecutive day when security forces killed 11, among them an opposition rebel, activists said, dpa reported.
According to the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC), which document violence on the ground, security forces killed three protesters in the southern province of Daraa, two protesters in central region of Hama, and two protesters in Aleppo.
Two people were also killed in the northern Idlib province, one in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and a rebel in al-Hassakeh near the Turkish border, the LCC added.
Despite the violation, Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the London-based Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa that "the shaky ceasefire was still holding across the country."
"Despite the breaches, the toll has decreased in comparison to the death tolls we saw last week, when 100s were killed daily," he said.
The Syrian government and the opposition rebels have accused each other of trying to violate the ceasefire, which UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has set up to end the 13-month crisis in the country and which has killed more than 9,000 people, according to UN estimates.
"All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan," Annan said.
"Mr. Annan is aware that we don't have a perfect situation in the country at the moment," his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said. "There are detainees that need to be released and humanitarian corridors need to be opened."
Annan's plan, calls for the withdrawal of forces from urban areas, the release of arbitrarily detained people, freedom of movement for journalists and the right to demonstrate.
"The Syrian government has informed the joint special envoy (Annan) that they granted visas to 74 international media," Fawzi said in Geneva.
He added that the UN Security Council was set to vote on a decision to send an advance team for a UN observer mission to Syria. The team was ready to go, he confirmed.
On Friday, the UN Security Council will meet and could vote on a resolution to send observers to monitor the ceasefire in Syria.
The Syrian Interior Ministry insisted people wanting to demonstrate must have a permit.
"The right to demonstrate peacefully is guaranteed by law. We call on citizens to apply the law by requesting a permit before demonstrating," it said.
Videos posted on opposition websites showed protesters rallying in areas in the outskirts of the capital and security forces shooting at them.
Mass demonstrations, demanding an end to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, were also held across Syria, said the London-based Observatory.
Meanwhile, sporadic clashes broke out between government troops and rebels at Khirbet al-Joz on the northern border with Turkey, the Observatory said.
A Western diplomat based in Beirut told dpa that "the first observer batch which could number up to 40 might be in Damascus by early next week."
Annan has urged the 15-nation UN Security Council to authorize an observer mission that would help salvage his peace plan to end the violence in Syria.
The Arab League's committee on Syria is expected to hold a meeting on Wednesday in the Qatari capital Doha, to discuss the outcome of Annan's plan, a diplomatic source at the Arab League said.