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Middle East
Arab League meets to discuss Syrian plan
Deadly attacks reported in run-up to expected announcement on regional body's proposals to ease violence in the country.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2011 15:29
Al Jazeera's Nisreen El Shamayleh reports from Ramtha on the border of Syria and Jordan

The Arab League is holding an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss plans to ease the violence in Syria even as it says it is awaiting the Assad government's response to its proposals calling for the withdrawal of tanks and armoured vehicles from the streets.

Syria's state-run TV says the government has already agreed to the Arab League's proposals.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy activists say Syrian security forces have killed at least 13 factory workers in a village northwest of Homs.

The victims were stopped at a roadblock on Wednesday where they were shot by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, the activists said.

"They were workers at a small building blocks factory. The exact time of their death is not known, but it appears it was this morning," Ahmad Fouad, a Homs-based activist, told the Reuters news agency by phone.

An activist submitted a Youtube video, purportedly shot in the village of Kfar Laha, that showed several bodies, gagged and with their hands tied behind their backs.

Kfar Laha, in the Houla region, is considered a centre for protests against Assad's government. The region is also home to an armed movement opposing the president.

The reported deaths come on the heels of an expected announcement in Cairo to make public Syrian government acceptance of an Arab League brokered deal to end seven months of protest. 

"If there is an announcement it is not expected to be anything incredibly earth-shattering or anything that would substantially change the course of things going on in Syria right now," Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf said, reporting from outside the meeting in Cairo.

"Syria, according to diplomats, has not rejected this proposal. In the broad sense it seems willing to agree to withdrawing tanks, releasing political prisoners, but there are some main points of disagreement, which will be discussed over the next few hours," she said.

'Revenge' attack

Wednesday's killings of those opposed to the Assad government follow online claims that nine members of the president's own Alawite sect had been dragged from a bus and then shot by assailants in the western province of Homs.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

The claims were made by an activist out of Homs and on a social-networking site supportive of the Assad government.

Omar Idlibi, a prominent activist in exile in Beirut, told the Reuters news agency that circumstances of Tuesday's bus incident remained unclear.

However he did say that the shooting occurred near a main army roadblock in Homs. The nine pro-government supporters killed included at least one Sunni Muslim and two Christians.

It is suspected that Wednesday's attack on the villagers was a revenge attack following the incident on Tuesday.

The UN says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on protesters since the uprisings against Assad first began in March. He has been accused of employing tanks and troops against civilians.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said: "Killing civilians must stop immediately in Syria." Ban spoke at a news conference in Tripoli, Libya.

"He [Bashar al-Assad] must implement the [Arab League] agreement as soon as possible as agreed," Ban said. "People have suffered too much for too long and it's an unacceptable situation."

Syrian authorities blame armed groups for the violence in Syria. These groups, the government says, were responsible for the deaths of 1,100 members of security forces.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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