Damascus: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday urged
Syria "immediately" to end attacks on civilians, a day after
dozens of people were killed in a fierce crackdown on dissent
and 17 troops died in clashes with suspected army deserters.
Ban`s appeal follows condemnation by the Arab League of
the deaths of 36 people yesterday activists said were killed
by security forces during mass protests calling for the
imposition of a Libya-style no-fly zone on Syria.
A rights watchdog meanwhile said another four civilians
were killed today and that fighting flared again between
troops and suspected defectors after clashes overnight killed
Ban "appeals for military operations against civilians to
stop at once," said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.
"The violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately,"
he added. "The calls of the Syrian people for change must be
answered with far-reaching reforms, not repression and
Yesterday`s violence, the worst in months, prompted fresh
condemnation from the foreign ministers of the 22-strong Arab
League, which has been trying to broker an end to the unrest
that has rocked Syria since anti-regime protests erupted in
"The Arab ministerial committee expressed its rejection
of the continued killings of civilians in Syria and expressed
its hope that the Syrian government will take the necessary
measures to protect them," they said in a statement.
An Arab League task force met Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad on Wednesday in Damascus and is due to hold talks
Sunday in Qatar with top Syrian officials to try to reach
"serious results and an exit to the Syrian crisis," it said.
The Syrian foreign ministry accused the Arab committee of
stoking dissent and said that Foreign Minister Walid Muallem
will "inform the committee tomorrow of the true situation in
Syria," the state-run news agency SANA reported.
The Arab task force is being influenced by "lies spread
by television channels" and should have "helped to calm (the
situation) and reach a solution to ensure the security and
stability of Syria instead of reviving dissent."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security
forces killed 36 people on Friday during the protests while
reporting that 17 soldiers later died in overnight clashes
between troops and suspected deserters in Homs.
Most of yesterday`s killings took place in Homs and Hama
provinces, which have been at the forefront of the
anti-government protests that have been brutally put down by
the security forces at a cost, according to the UN, of more
than 3,000 lives, mostly civilians.
The Observatory said more than 100 people were wounded
and 500 arrested during Friday`s protests.
Today, another four civilians, including a woman, were
killed and several wounded by gunfire from Syrian forces and
snipers in Homs province, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Clashes also resumed today in Duwar al-Rayess
neighbourhood of Homs, where a loud blast was heard after an
armoured car was hit, the Observatory said, adding that smoke
could be seen billowing from a government building.
In northwest Syria, hundreds of soldiers deployed in
Sarakeb, in Idlib province, the Observatory said, quoting
local activists who feared the army could be preparing an
"invasion" of the town.