Syria: Unfazed by Ultimatum, Assad Continues Killing

November 25, 2011  

It was another bloody day in Syria on Friday, as the violence continued and the Assad regime faced the possibility of sweeping economic sanctions from the Arab League.

Local activists told The Associated Press that at least 11 people were killed by security forces on Friday, while the military announced that six elite pilots and four technical officers were killed in an ambush on Thursday in Homs, in an unusually high-level strike.

“Our armed forces (will) continue to carry out our mission to defend the country’s security, and we will hit back against anything that threatens us,” read the military’s statement as quoted by AP.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the news agency that security forces carried out raids Friday in the village of Furoqlos, near where the pilots were ambushed, and detained 37 people.

The latest violence comes after on Thursday, the Arab League gave Syria 24 hours to agree to an observer mission or face sanctions. However, the Friday afternoon deadline passed with no agreement. Instead, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby received a letter from Syria seeking more details about the proposed observer mission and its legal status.

As such, AP reported, the League, which has already suspended Syria’s membership, will convene Saturday to decide on sanctions. The Arab League’s Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli told AP the punishments could include halting flights and imposing a freeze on financial dealings and assets.

One senior diplomat said the League would still accept an agreement from Syria by the end of the day, even though the official deadline has passed. Damascus, however, has given no clear signs that it would bow to the pressure.

According to the UN, more than 3,500 people have been killed over the last eight months in the protests against President Bashar Assad. Meanwhile, a UN human rights panel has expressed alarm at reports it received of security forces in Syria torturing children.

The Geneva-based Committee against Torture said Friday it has received “numerous, consistent and substantiated reports” of widespread abuse in the country.

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