Arab League says Syria not implementing deal as Assad continues brutality

Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad wave old Syrian flags as they march through the streets on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha in Alsnmin near Daraa. (Reuters)

The Arab League on Sunday said Syrian authorities had failed to implement a deal which would see a withdrawal of troops from the streets, an end to the violence, and the start of a dialogue with the opposition, adding that foreign ministers from Arab nations would meet on Saturday to discuss the crisis.

The statement by the Arab League came as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad continued its deadly crackdown on protesters across the country. Security forces killed at least 20 civilians on Sunday, the first day of the Muslim feast marking the end of the hajj, a human rights group said.

It was the fourth straight day of deadly violence since Syria agreed to the Arab peace blueprint aimed at ending nearly eight months of bloodshed reported AFP.

Eight of the civilians were killed in Homs, the flashpoint central city where protests against Assad's rule were held in most districts despite a weeks-long military crackdown.

Most of the deaths occurred in the Baba Amro neighborhood, where clashes have raged for days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement received by AFP in Nicosia.

Security forces also shot dead a civilian in the city of Hama, which lies further to the north, and another in Idlib province, near the border with Turkey.

And in Talbi, a town near Homs, “four protesters were wounded, one seriously, when the security forces fired on a demonstration,” said the Britain-based Observatory.

“Dozens of people were injured by security forces who shot at a major demonstration in Kafruma, an area of the province of Idlib, in the northwest of Syria,” it added.

Armed forces stormed and surrounded the villages of Zamalka and Irbin, in the province of Damascus, said the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), an activist network spurring protests in Syria.

After Eid al-Adha prayers, protests erupted in northern Syria in Halab and Rafiha, the revolution council added.

In Qabun neighborhood in Damascus, security forces heavily fired at protesters, activists said.

Activists also said that the big mosque in Doma in the countryside of Damascus was surrounded by the Shabiha elements and the security forces to stop the worshippers from taking to the streets after eid prayers.

Despite the Syrian regime showing ‘goodwill’ as it released more than 550 people arrested during anti-regime protests on Saturday, the Syrian lawyer and dissident Haitham al-Maleh told Al Arabiya TV that more than 80 thousand dissidents were in Syrian jails and that releasing such a small number of prisoners would not make the regime’s image any good.

Rights groups also said that thousands of people have been arrested since the crackdown began, claiming many detainees are tortured or even killed in prison.

The Arab League chief, meanwhile, warned that failure of the peace deal agreed this week would be catastrophic and demanded an immediate end to the bloodshed.

Syrian security forces killed 27 people across the country on Saturday, local coordination committees said, days after the regime in Damascus agreed with the Arab League to end deadly violence against pro-democracy protesters by withdrawing troops from the streets and starting dialogue with the opposition.

The Arab League plan calls for an end to violence, the release of those detained, the withdrawal of the army from urban areas and free movement for observers and the media, as well as talks between the regime and opposition.

However, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, on Saturday ruled out any dialogue with the regime.

“We will not negotiate over the blood of the victims and the martyrs. The regime is only trying to win time,” with its declared acceptance of the Arab plan, he charged, calling on security forces to desert.

The death toll since Syria agreed to the plan on Wednesday has topped 50, with the United Nations estimating that more than 3,000 people have been killed in a brutal crackdown since anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March.

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