Syria Activists Call for Nationwide Rallies

Posted January 13th, 2012 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists are calling for nationwide protests Friday in support of the armed rebel group, the Free Syrian Army.

The calls came a day after opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun met with the leader of the rebels, Colonel Riad al-Assad. Reports say the two leaders discussed the situation on the ground and the needs of the group, made up of army defectors.

Thursday, a Syrian rights group said more Arab League observers were leaving the country to protest the government's ongoing deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Mousab Azzawi of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA 11 observers were expected to depart from Syria soon.

Foreign observers have been operating in Syria since December 26 to check President Bashar al-Assad's compliance with an Arab League plan to end his violent suppression of the uprising that began last year.

But the United Nations and the United States say killings of protesters by Syrian security forces have continued and intensified since the monitoring mission began.

The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 people have been killed in the uprising, many of them peaceful protesters attacked by Syrian security forces. Others have been killed in fighting between the Syrian military and the army defectors who have joined the rebellion in recent months.