Syrian security forces backed by troops killed at least 27 people across the country on Sunday, the Syrian Revelation’s General Commission said.The bloodshed continued despite President Bashar al-Assad's reported agreement to a roadmap of political reforms proposed by Arab countries and delivered to Damascus on Saturday by Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi.
Sunday’s security crackdown appeared to focus on the rebellious city of Homs, where tanks heavily shelled two neighborhood killing 18 people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a young man was killed by gunfire at a security checkpoint in the northwestern village of Khan Sobol near the city of Idlib
In the south, three civilians were killed and 12 wounded by security forces firing on demonstrators Saturday night outside the city council near Nimr, in Daraa province, the Observatory said.
It added that the bodies of two brothers, an officer who defected, were turned over to their families in the northwestern village of Rami.
And the body of a militant, Ghiyath Matar, who played a key role in organising anti-regime demonstrations, were given to his family, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch, which cited activists.
Matar, who was arrested September 6, died of torture, the international watchdog said. He had bruises on the chest and signs of injuries to the face, according to activists
Sunday’s bloodshed cams despite President Assad’s continuous pledges of reform. Arab League chief al-Arabi said on Saturday upon his return to Cairo from a visit to Syria that he had reached an “agreement on reforms” with Assad.
“We have reached agreement on steps to carry out the reforms, (and) the elements will be submitted to the council of the Arab League,” Arabi said in brief interview with reporters at Cairo International Airport. The council of the Arab League is due to meets on Monday.
The attempt by the 22-member pan-Arab body to resolve the festering Syria crisis takes place with the United States set to ramp up work on a UN Security Council resolution targeting Syria.
“We’re looking at accelerating that work next week,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in reference to a draft resolution likely to include sanctions.
Arabi’s mission came three days later than originally planned, as activists reported seven new deaths a day after five other Syrians were killed when security forces dispersed protests after weekly Friday prayers.
The United Nations says that more than 2,200 people ─ mostly civilians ─ have been killed in a crackdown on almost daily protests by pro-democracy and anti-regime demonstrators in Syria since mid-March.
Authorities in Damascus blame armed groups for the violence and say 500 soldiers and police have been killed since the unrest erupted in the southern city of Deraa in mid-March.
The United Nations says 2,200 people have died in the uprising, while a Syrian grassroots organization says security forces have killed 3,000 civilians.
Syria has barred most independent media, making it hard to verify accounts by activists and authorities.
According to a copy of an Arab League document, Arabi was to propose that President Assad hold elections in three years, move towards a pluralistic government and immediately halt the crackdown.
Assad should declare his “commitment to making the transition towards a pluralistic government and use his powers to speed up reforms and announce multi-candidate elections... for 2014, when his current mandate ends,” says the document.
Assad has pledged reforms and issued a decree in August allowing opposition political parties alongside the ruling Baath party, in power since 1963 with the constitutional status of “the leader of state and society.”
The Arab initiative, agreed at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo last month, also calls on Syria “to immediately end” the crackdown, “separate the military from political and civil life” and begin talks with the opposition.
On Saturday, Some 40 Syrian exiles announced in Vienna the formation of a new grouping opposed to the government of Assad.
The Union of Syrians Abroad aims to bring about the fall of the Damascus regime and the establishment of a multi-party democracy.
The participants at the founding meeting came from 15 countries including Germany, Greece, Russia, Spain and Switzerland as well as Austria.
Amer al-Khatib, a member of Austria's Syrian community, said they supported the revolt against Assad's regime by all possible means, while advocating non-violence.
Khatib said the group's founding declaration would be sent to all Syrian embassies abroad, calling on diplomats to dissociate themselves from Damascus.