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Arab League Repeats Terms to Syria; Deaths Continue
January 9, 2012

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The Arab League has repeated its insistence to Syria that that country's government stop its pattern of violence against civilians.

Again on Sunday, people died in the streets. This time, the report was of 20 deaths, including 11 soldiers. That brought the death toll in just the past three days to more than 100. Overall, the United Nations says, more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in the 10 months of protests against the government and army of President Bashar al-Assad.

The League had sent observers to streets in large cities like Homs, a central city that has been a hotbed of resistance and violence, to ensure that the Syrian government comply with the terms of a League-brokered peace plan. Despite the presence of these observers, soldiers did not entirely stop the violence. Although they withdrew large numbers of troops and tanks from the cities, the forces waited just outside city limits while the killing continued inside.

The League has so far not put its case directly to the United Nations, as it did in the case of Libya in 2011. Some members of the U.N. Security Council, namely China and Russia, have already said that they would veto any resolution imposing sanctions on Syria.

Meanwhile, a pair of dueling protests showed the deep division around the country. A funeral just outside Damascus for protesters attracted a large crowd who chanted anti-government slogans, while in Damascus, thousands gathered in a pro-Assad rally. As the ranks of the armed opposition continued to grow, with the latest report listing nine soldiers switching sides and joining the Syrian Free Army, many observers fear that they are seeing the first stages of a coming civil war.



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