Arab League, Turkey urge Syria to end violence
Turkey and the Arab League called Wednesday on Syria to end its violent crackdown on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, on a day that saw at least 31 soldiers and civilians killed in fresh clashes across the country, dpa reported.
Following a meeting in Rabat also attended by Turkey's foreign minister, the Arab League called in a statement for "prompt measures" to protect civilians in Syria.
Turkey has emerged as one of the most vociferous critics of the Syrian government's crackdown on opposition.
An Arab-Turkish cooperation forum held in the same city also spoke of "the necessity of sparing the Syrians more violence and bloodshed."
Underscored Syria's increased isolation, participants voiced support for Arabs' legitimate aspirations for freedom and reforms.
"Fulfilling these rights should be pursued peacefully and the basic freedoms of all citizens, as well as territorial integrity, should be preserved," a statement said.
The gathering in Morocco was not attended by officials from Syria, where army deserters attacked a military intelligence office in Harasta, near the capital Damascus, killing six soldiers and wounding more than 20, according to opposition figures.
"The Syrian Free Army (deserters) struck with rockets and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades)," said Omar Idlibi, the Beirut-based spokesman for the opposition Syrian Local Coordination Committees.
Army defectors also killed eight soldiers and wounded dozens in an attack on a security checkpoint in the town of Kafr Zeta in Hama, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A further 17 civilians were killed when Syrian troops fired on anti-government protesters in several areas of the country, according to the opposition General Syria Revolution Committees.
The bulk of the deaths were in the restive provinces of Homs and Idlib, where residents engaged in acts of civil disobedience to protest the government crackdown.
It is hard to independently verify news from Syria as the authorities have barred foreign media from the country.
In Damascus, protesters believed to be loyal to President Bashar al-Assad attacked the embassies of Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
France, meanwhile, summoned its ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier for consultations.
Also on Wednesday, the renegade Syrian Free Army announced the formation of a military council to oust al-Assad's regime.
"This period requires the Free Syrian Army to establish an interim military council," said a statement by the group posted on the website of the opposition Syrian Revolution 2011.
Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, who defected from the army to form Syrian Free Army in July, is to head the council, the statement said.
More than 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since pro-democracy protests began in mid-March, according to the United Nations.