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Syria Ignores Arab League Deadline, Risks Sanctions

Syria has ignored an Arab League deadline to accept international observers to oversee an initiative aimed at ending a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

Arab League officials had said that if the government of President Bashar al-Assad failed to respond Friday, they would meet Saturday to discuss imposing additional sanctions.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby says he received a letter from Damascus asking questions about the proposed observer mission.

The league suspended Syria's membership two weeks ago because of the government's violent crackdown on dissent and President Bashar al-Assad's failure to implement a league plan designed to end the unrest.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tells VOA that security forces have killed at least eight people across the country.

The Syrian military, meanwhile, reported on Friday that "terrorists" killed six of its pilots and three other officers. The state-run SANA news agency says the incident took place in the Homs region on Thursday.

The violence occurred as protesters took to the streets in several cities on Friday, demanding Mr. Assad's resignation. Separately, state-run media reports government loyalists waving Syrian flags and pictures of the president rallied to express their "rejection" of the Arab League measure.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed since March in connection to Syria's anti-government protests.

On Friday, the U.N. Committee against Torture said it had received reports of widespread abuses in Syria, including the torture of children detained by security forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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