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Arab League Debates Penalizing Syria

Arab League officials during a meeting in Cairo to discuss the situation in Syria, November 24, 2011.

The Arab League is meeting to consider sanctions against Syria, where the death toll from the government's crackdown on dissent continues to mount.

Arab League diplomats meeting in Egypt on Saturday are considering penalties that include halting Arab flights into Syria and a freeze on trade and banking exchanges.

The French news agency says Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has accused the group of "internationalizing" his country's anti-government crisis.

Activists say Syrian forces killed at least five people in a series of raids on Saturday. They said at least 27 people were killed in anti-government-related unrest on Friday, including at least 10 security force members who died in clashes with army deserters.

The government has blamed gunmen and "terrorists" for much of the unrest.

The Arab League meeting comes a day after Damascus missed a deadline to agree on allowing international monitors to enter the country. Earlier this month, the 22-member group suspended Syria's membership after it failed to implement a plan designed to end the government's violent crackdown.

For months, protesters have been taking to the streets and demanding President Bashar al-Assad's resignation.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed since March in connection with the opposition protests.

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

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