Syrian army defectors 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT - As tanks
fired in Homs and rebels fired rockets in Damascus Tuesday, a Syrian
rebel army chief urged the world to protect civilians, saying Arab peace
monitors had failed to curb Syrian President Bashar Assad's
violent response to a 10-month-old revolt against his rule.
powers have also proved unable to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where UN
officials say more than 5,000 people have been killed and Damascus says
its security forces have lost 2,000 dead.
Analysis: Unknown awaits Arab League in Syria
UN chief urges Security Council to act on Syria
al-Asaad, a Turkish-based leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army, called
for international intervention to replace the Arab observer mission,
which has only days to run.
"The Arab League and their monitors
failed in their mission and though we respect and appreciate our Arab
brothers for their efforts, we think they are incapable of improving
conditions in Syria or resisting this regime," he told Reuters by
"For that reason we call on them to turn the issue
over to the UN Security Council and we ask that the international
community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians
at this stage than our Arab brothers," Asaad said.
Assad, while proffering reform, has vowed to crush his "terrorist" foes
with an "iron fist," but Syrians braving bullets and torture chambers
appear equally determined to add him to the past year's list of toppled
Army deserters and other rebels have taken up arms
against security forces dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect,
pushing Sunni Muslim-majority Syria closer to civil war.
Fresh violence in Homs and Damascus
firing rockets killed an officer and five of his men at a rural
checkpoint near Damascus, and wounded seven others, the state news
agency SANA reported on Tuesday, a day after gunmen assassinated a
brigadier general near the capital.
Eight people were killed when a bomb hit a minibus on the Aleppo-Idlib road, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In Homs, tank fire crashed
into the Khalidiya district after a night rally against Assad there,
activists said. YouTube footage showed a crowd dancing at the rally and
waving old Syrian flags used before the Baath Party seized power in
The British-based Observatory said two people were killed and nine wounded in the violence in Homs.
Activists also reported fighting between rebels and troops
trying to edge into Khalidiya, a neighborhood that is home to Sunni
tribesmen and lies next to the Alawite district of Nozha.
Tanks were firing sporadically at the rebel-held town of Zabadani, near
the Lebanese border, which has been under attack since Friday, activists
said. They added that several soldiers who had tried to defect to the
opposition had been killed.
Syrian forces shot dead a man at a roadblock in the restive Damascus
suburb of Qatana, they said, and an activist was killed by sniper fire
in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun.
The Arab League must decide soon whether to withdraw its 165 monitors,
whose mandate expires on Thursday, or keep them in Syria, even though
they are set to report that Damascus has not fully implemented a peace
plan agreed on Nov. 2.
The Arab plan required Syria to halt the bloodshed, withdraw troops from
cities, free detainees, provide access for the monitors and the media
and open talks with opposition forces.
Qatar has proposed sending in Arab troops, a bold idea for the often
sluggish League and one likely to be resisted by Arab rulers close to
Assad and those worried about unrest at home.
The League could ask the UN Security Council to act, but until now
opposition from Russia and China has prevented the world body from even criticizing Syria, an old ally of Moscow.
Western diplomats said a Russian draft resolution handed to the Council
on Monday did not make clear if Moscow would accept tough language
demanded by the West.
A Syrian lawmaker told Reuters on Monday he had fled the country to join
the opposition after losing hope that Assad would enact reforms or stop
"Blood is in the streets," said Imad Ghalioun, from the restive city of Homs, who took refuge in Cairo two weeks ago.
"The whole country is bleeding. I do not think there will be any reforms
because the young people have taken their decision," he said. "This is a
revolution and there is no going back."