Idlib Battle Leaves 15 dead as Arab League deadline looms
Published Sunday, December 4, 2011
A three-hour long street battle in the Syrian city of Idlib between government forces and army defectors has left at least 15 people dead, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The clashes took place Saturday night along the Turkish border and reportedly led to the deaths of three civilians, seven members of the government's security forces, and five army defectors.
Meanwhile, security forces killed six in Homs, three more in Idlib, and one in Daraa during pre-dawn raids, bringing the death toll to 25 on Sunday, the UK-based rights group said.
Syrian state media reported that 13 soldiers were laid to rest on Sunday after they were killed by “terrorists.”
Sunday also marked the Arab League deadline for the Syrian regime to sign an agreement that would allow human rights observers into the country.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told Al Jazeera that "if the signing does not happen soon, then the Arab sanctions that have been approved will be in effect.”
Speaking to reporters in Damascus Sunday a spokesman from Syria's foreign ministry said, "Messages are being exchanged between Syria and the Arab League to reach a certain vision that would facilitate the mission of observers in Syria, while preserving Syrian interests and sovereignty."
Some of the sanctions the League approved in November started immediately, including halting all transactions with Syria's central bank, ending all Arab government funding for projects in Syria, and freezing assets of regime officials.
Starting December 15 all commercial flights between Syria and its Arab neighbors will be halted.
The US, EU, and Turkey have all imposed their own sanctions in an attempt to isolate President Bashar Assad's regime.
The UN's top official on human rights said Syria is in a state of civil war and that at least 4,000 people have been killed in the nine-month uprising.
The month of November was the deadliest since the uprising began with 950 people killed in gun battles, raids, and other violence, according to activists.
(al-Akhbar, AP, Reuters, SANA)