Activists: 10 Killed in Syria as Amnesty Takes Effect

Posted November 5th, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists on Saturday reported more violence in the restive city of Homs, with at least 10 people killed after government forces used heavy artillery against protesters.

It was the fourth consecutive day that activists said government forces continued to pound the Baba Amr district of Homs.

The violence came on the same day as Syrian officials announced the release of 553 anti-government protesters as part of of an amnesty for Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice.

Under the deal announced by Syrian interior minister Friday, the government would grant amnesty to those guilty of bearing arms, but not responsible for killing anyone, if they turn themselves in. Shortly after the announcement, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged Syrians not to accept the offer.

On Saturday, the Syrian government condemned Nuland's comments as “irresponsible” and accused her of supporting “armed groups” who were carrying out acts of violence against civilians.

In Cairo, meanwhile, Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi deplored the ongoing violence and warned Damascus that its failure to abide by an Arab peace plan would be a “catastrophe for both Syria and the region.” But he also said that Arab states were opposed to “foreign intervention.”

Western countries, such as the United States and France, have questioned Damascus' commitment to the Arab League plan brokered on Wednesday that calls for a halt to violence and talks between the government and the opposition.

On Friday, activists said security forces killed at least 19 people as anti-government protesters rallied across the country.

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

The Syrian government has blamed much of the unrest on “terrorists” and gunmen.