November 6, 2011
Just days after the Arab League reached an agreement with Syria that was meant to stop violence between protesters and government forces, dozens have been killed over the weekend, leaving the deal hanging in the balance.
Palestinians hold candles and the Syrian national flag as they
protest against the Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad
in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 30, 2011.
AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI
Despite a deal reached on Wednesday between the Arab League and Syria to end the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown of protests, violence has continued over the weekend, leading the head of the Arab League to express concern for the holding power of the agreement.
“The failure of the Arab solution will have disastrous consequences in Syria and the region,” the 22-nation bloc’s secretary general, Nabil Elaraby, said on Saturday, adding that Syria’s government should take “immediate measures” to protect civilians.
The weekend violence in Syria continued in the city of Homs. According to activists, at least five people were killed on Saturday when tank shells were fired on the city, which has become a main hub for both the protest movement and the government’s reprisal. This is in addition to 15 people activists say were killed during a protest march on Friday.
The Syrian opposition accused government troops of killing four civilians on Sunday during demonstrations in several parts of the country on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
Three of the deaths occurred in the central province of Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Homs has for weeks been the target of a violent government crackdown, the opposition says.
Troops shot dead a fourth civilian in the restive city of Hama, said the London-based Observatory.
Police and pro-government militia lobbed tear gas and fired on protesters in the al-Qaboon district of the capital Damascus, said online activists. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The government on Saturday promised to withdraw security and military forces from civilian areas under an Arab League plan to end the unrest in the country. But the opposition said Sunday that the promise had not been kept. On Saturday, the head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, warned of ‘disastrous consequences’ in Syria and the entire region if the plan failed. The plan, accepted by Damascus, foresees a complete halt to the violence, the release of detained protesters, and foreign media access to the country.
As many as 50 people are thought to have been killed since Syria reached the deal with the Arab League that was meant to reduce the violence that has swept the country in the seven months since the protest movement began.
Damascus released 553 people who had been arrested during the protests on Saturday to coincide with the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. The release of those detained during the protests was part of the Arab League deal signed by Syria, but it is believed that many more people continue to be held.
In addition, the Arab League plan calls for a military withdrawal from Syrian cities, unrestricted media observation, and an open dialogue between the regime and the opposition. (AP, Reuters, AFP, DPA, DW, the independent NewsweeK)