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December 7, 2022

More violence reported as Syria awaits Arab League talks

Over 30 killed during the weekend.

CAIRO / DAMASCUS – Arab League officials met in Cairo on Sunday to discuss their Syria mission amid escalating tension and a growing international outcry over the unrest that has killed thousands. “The option of suspending the monitors’ mission is not on the table and the mission will continue as more Arab nations are sending experts to join the mission,” the League said.

The head of the League was expected to recommend beefing up the mission, which currently has 165 observers, said Ali Erfan, a senior adviser to the Arab League chief. Arab League officials have consulted with the United Nations about the situation in Syria, he said.

While the mission does not have a mandate for peacekeeping or to stop the conflict, it is tasked with verifying Syria complies with the four points for the Arab League action plan. They are release detainees, allow media and other observers, halt the violence and pull heavy equipment off the streets.

Human Rights Watch notes that League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby said, “Syria has already taken some steps under the terms of the agreement, withdrawing heavy weapons from Syrian cities, and releasing about 3,500 prisoners.” But it cites examples of Syria failing to abide by the League initiative, including security forces’ attacks on peaceful demonstrators since the mission began.

Early Sunday morning, clashes between government security forces and army defectors killed at least 11 in the village of Basr al-Harir in Daraa, according to the Syrian Ob­servatory for Human Rights, a London-based opposition group with contacts throughout the country.

And according to the same source, quoted by Voice of America, at least 21 people were killed in clashes throughout the country on Saturday. The majority of the deaths occurred in the flashpoint central city of Homs and in the restive Idlib province in the northwest.

The clashes came as thousands of supporters of President Bashar al-Assad joined a funeral ceremony in Damascus for 26 people killed in a bomb attack a day earlier. The government called the devastating explosion Friday, which also wounded more than 60 people, a “terrorist” attack and accused opposition groups of being behind the killings. It also vowed to “strike back with an iron fist” against the perpetrators. But opposition activists deny any involvement in the bombing and have suggested the authorities staged the explosion to create a backlash against those calling for a government removal.

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