New Reports of Fierce Fighting in Syria, Sanctions Loom

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian army deserters have launched another attack against government troops, with deadly results.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released details of the fighting Saturday. It said army defectors killed 10 troops and security agents during the battle late Friday in the eastern part of the country. It also said several of the deserters were wounded.

Word of the clash comes as members of the Arab League are preparing to meet to possibly slap Damascus with another rebuke and more sanctions for its violent crackdown on the anti-government movement.

Arab League officials are set to discuss additional measures against the defiant government of Syrian President Basher al-Assad later Saturday.

The Syrian government failed Friday to meet an Arab League deadline to accept international observers to oversee an end to the crackdown. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said he did receive a letter from Damascus with questions about the proposed observer mission, but nothing more.

Friday's deadline passed in Syria as more violence and killings were reported and protesters took to the streets again to demand Mr. Assad's immediate resignation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA Friday security forces killed at least eight people across the country. Meanwhile, the Syrian military alleged “terrorists” killed six of its pilots and three other officers. The state-run SANA news agency said the incident took place in the Homs region on Thursday.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership two weeks ago because of the government's violent crackdown on dissent and President Assad's failure to implement a league plan designed to end the unrest.

Despite growing international condemnation of the Syrian government, state-run media said Friday that government loyalists waving Syrian flags and pictures of the president rallied to express their rejection of the Arab League measure.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed since March in connection to Syria's anti-government protests.

On Friday, the U.N. Committee against Torture said it had received reports of widespread abuses in Syria, including the torture of children detained by security forces.