Opposition, Rights Group Urge Arab League to Suspend Syria

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 3:30 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian opposition activists say they will use protests planned for Friday to call for a suspension of the country's Arab League membership.

The move comes as the 22-member League prepares for an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the apparent breakdown of an agreement with Damascus to end the government's brutal crackdown on dissent.

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

Human Rights Watch has echoed the call for Syria's Arab League suspension. In a Friday report, the group said Damascus may be guilty of crimes against humanity for alleged tortures and unlawful killings.

Activists say at least 33 people were killed on Thursday. They say many of the deaths took place in the Homs region, a flashpoint where security forces have launched a series of raids in search of dissidents. Activists also say Syrian soldiers were 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, the Amnesty International rights group called on the Arab League to press Syria to allow independent monitors to enter the country.

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