Syrian Opposition Calls Friday Protests

Posted January 20th, 2012 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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The Syrian opposition has called for more anti-government protests Friday, ahead of a meeting Sunday in which Arab leaders will decide whether their observer mission should stay in the country.

The protesters are calling on the government to honor the terms of an Arab League agreement to end 10 months of violent suppression of the public uprising.

The Arab League mission will remain in Syria until Sunday, when Arab foreign ministers are due to review a report on the situation by the team's Sudanese chief. They are then to decide whether to keep the team of about 165 observers in Syria for another month.

Rights group Human Rights Watch on Friday urged the Arab League to release the report publicly.

In a statement, the group said it has documented daily violations by security forces against protesters. It said it also has evidence that the Syrian government has taken steps to interfere with the work of the international monitors.

The observers have been trying to verify if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government is keeping its pledge to stop the violent suppression of the uprising against his 11-year autocratic rule.

Syrian rights groups have criticized the observers' effectiveness, saying the Assad government has deceived the team and escalated deadly attacks on the opposition since the observers began work on December 26.

Qatar's ruling emir has called for Arab troops to be deployed in Syria to stop the government crackdown. Syria has rejected the idea.

Syrian rights activists say a group of soldiers on Thursday killed a military intelligence general after defying his order to fire on civilians in the central region of Homs. They say pro-Assad forces also killed at least nine people in crackdowns on opposition hubs.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syria says “terrorists” have killed about 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began.