Syria urged to apply Arab deal
At least 100 Syrian army deserters were killed or wounded in new clashes yesterday as Damascus faced demands to halt its bloody nine-month crackdown on dissent a day after signing an Arab peace plan.
The Arab League said an advance team of observers would head Thursday to Damascus to lay the ground for monitors overseeing the plan, as Western powers and Gulf monarchs piled the pressure on Syria.
The team would include security, legal and administrative observers, with human rights experts expected to follow, and would be headed by fellow assistant secretary general Samir Seif al-Yazal.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three civilians were also killed yesterday in addition to the military casualties in northwestern Idlib province, in a second day of deadly clashes between loyalist troops and deserters.
The Observatory reported on Monday that up to 70 deserters were gunned down as they tried to flee their military posts in the Idlib towns of Kansafra and Kafruwed.
It also urged Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to "intervene immediately to end this eventual massacre."
Syria meanwhile introduced a law imposing the death penalty on anyone arming "terrorists", state media reported Tuesday.
After weeks of prevaricating, Syria on Monday signed a deal at Arab League headquarters in Cairo to allow in observers as part of a broader plan to end months of deadly violence.
Damascus has pledged to cooperate fully with the terms of the agreement. But the promise seemingly failed to persuade many world powers.
Rulers of the energy-rich Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday urged Syria to immediately halt its "killing machine" as well as end the bloodshed and "lift all signs of armed conflict."