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svgadminsvgNovember 1, 2011svgNews

Syria Agrees to Arab League Proposal, In Part

Arab diplomats say the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed in part to an Arab League plan to end its brutal crackdown on protests against his 11-year rule.

On Tuesday the diplomats said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem accepted some of the Arab League proposals during talks with Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani in Doha on Sunday.

The plan calls for the Syrian government to withdraw security forces from the streets, stop violence by pro-government forces against civilians, and begin a dialogue with the Syrian opposition in Cairo.

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted diplomatic sources as saying Syria objected to meeting opposition leaders in Cairo and insisted on holding talks in Damascus.

Many in Syria have called for Western powers to impose a Libya-style no-fly zone over Syria, which would be of critical import to the nascent armed resistance growing in the country. But, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday the alliance has no intention of taking military action in Syria.

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for the Syrian opposition. Turkey’s Today’s Zaman reported that Erdogan told a Parliament meeting that he believes “the Syrian people will be successful in their glorious resistance.”

Over the past month armed bands of army defectors under the direction of dissident Syrian Air Force General Riad Assad, presently in Turkey, have mounted a series of high-profile and lethal guerilla strikes on loyalist forces.

Observers say it is likely army defectors, who are believed to have the strength of two brigades worth of fighters, could be armed and supported by Istanbul in a bid to use them as a Turkish proxy to destabilize Assad’s regime.

Their initial hit-and-run successes have also inspired many who support more aggressive tactics against the regime, leading some analysts to suggest the defectors could see their numbers grow in a trend that could lead to open civil war.

On this backdrop, the 22-member Arab League sharpened its criticism of Syria after rights activists said Syrian security forces shot and killed dozens of anti-government protesters on Friday.

The United Nations says the number of people killed in the seven-month-old uprising has surpassed 3,000. The Syrian government says terrorists have killed hundreds of security personnel during that period.

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