News / Middle East

    Opposition, Rights Group Urge Arab League to Suspend Syria

    Syrian protesters prevent Abdul-Aziz al-Khair, a member of the Syrian National Coordination Committee, second from left, and other opposition leaders from entering the Arab League headquarters where they were to hold talks with the organization's chief on
    Syrian protesters prevent Abdul-Aziz al-Khair, a member of the Syrian National Coordination Committee, second from left, and other opposition leaders from entering the Arab League headquarters where they were to hold talks with the organization's chief on

    Opponents of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad held protests around the country Friday, as opposition leaders urged the demonstrators to call for a suspension of Syria's Arab League membership.

    The 22-member league will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss Syria's unrest.

    That meeting of comes on the heels of an apparent breakdown of an agreement that calls on the Syrian government to end its brutal crackdown on dissent.

    Earlier this month, Syria announced that it had agreed to the plan, which includes a withdrawal of security forces from the streets and talks with the opposition. However, activists and witnesses have reported continued violence.

    Human Rights Watch issued a report Friday echoing the call to suspend Syria's Arab League membership. The New York-based rights group said Syrian authorities may be guilty of crimes against humanity for alleged torture and unlawful killings in areas including the flashpoint region of Homs.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least five people were killed during anti-government demonstrations on Friday.  Activists also report that security forces took up positions on rooftops in Damascus, in an apparent bid to discourage protests there.

    Activists said at least 33 people were killed on Thursday, with many of the deaths taking place in the Homs region. Security forces have launched a series of raids in Homs in search of dissidents.  Activists said Syrian soldiers were also killed, in an apparent ambush.  

    The casualty figures could not be independently verified because Syria bars most foreign journalists from operating in the country.

    On Thursday, Amnesty International called on the Arab League to press Syria to allow independent monitors to enter the country.

    Earlier in the week, the U.N. human rights office said at least 3,500 people had been killed in the country since protests against President Assad began in March.

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

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    Diaa Bekheet

    Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets. He is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

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