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Syrian Forces Kill At Least 7 in Friday Protests

A protester faces riot police at Khalidia, near Homs, Syria November 4, 2011.

Activists say Syrian security forces have killed at least seven people as protests continued Friday despite the government's acceptance of an Arab League peace initiative.

Members of anti-government groups say forces killed most of the people in Homs and the suburbs of the capital Damascus. According to them, government forces had starting firing on demonstrators in several towns shortly after the weekly Friday protests began.

Reuters quoted Syrian state television denying there were any killings.

On Thursday, activists blamed pro-government forces for at least 12 deaths in Homs.

The day before, the Arab League brokered a plan to halt violence and convene talks between the government and the opposition.

The plan called for Syrian authorities to immediately withdraw security forces from the streets, stop violence against demonstrators and release all detainees jailed since protests began.

In Cairo Thursday, members of the opposition Syrian National Council met with the Arab League chief to discuss the way forward. Council member Samir al-Nashar said the group did not discuss possible dialogue with the Syrian government but instead asked that Assad step down. The SNC then offered to "engage in negotiations" to move from an authoritarian government to a democratic one.

The United Nations says the number of people killed during the eight-month-old uprising against Assad has topped 3,000.

The Syrian government has blamed much of the unrest - including deadly violence in Homs this week - on "terrorists" and gunmen.

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

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