Syrian Forces Kill 25 as Monitors Visit More Regions

Posted December 29th, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian forces killed at least 25 people on Thursday as Arab League monitors fanned out across the country to check the government's compliance with a pledge to end its crackdown on dissent.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says security forces opened fire on thousands of protesters in the Damascus suburb of Douma, killing at least four people. Some residents said Arab League observers were in the area at the time.

Activists say Thursday's violence also includes at least six deaths in Hama. The central city has been a flashpoint of anti-government unrest.

Meanwhile, the government says Arab League monitors “met a number of citizens” in neighborhoods in Damascus and Homs as well as the Daraa and Hama regions.

About 60 monitors are in the country to check the government's promise to halt violence against protesters and release political detainees. The monitors say they will make some unannounced visits.

On Wednesday, activists and rights groups said government forces had killed at least 39 people since the monitors arrived Monday, including six people shot in Hama.

Some residents and activists raised concerns that the Arab observers were neither properly qualified nor independent. Residents of the hard-hit district of Baba Amr in Homs refused to allow observers in because army officers were with them. The standoff ended when the officers withdrew.

Syrian authorities agreed to the Arab League observers under international pressure and threats of Arab sanctions. The plan requires Syrian authorities to give the monitors freedom of movement except for sensitive military sites.

The United Nations estimates 5,000 people have been killed since March in violence linked to Syria's unrest. Syria says armed terrorists are driving the revolt. It accuses them of killing 2,000 security personnel since March.