Arab League observers walking through protest.
(photo credit: REUTERS/via Reuters Tv/Handout )
CAIRO - Syria's military has withdrawn from residential areas and is on the outskirts of the country's cities, but gunfire continues and snipers are still a threat, the Arab League's Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said on Monday.
RELATED:Arab body says monitors should quit Syria promptlySyrian opposition outlines post-Assad democracy
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in a crackdown on protests which broke out against Syrian President Bashar Assad in March.
Elaraby was speaking in Cairo as Arab League monitors gathered in Syria to check compliance with a peace plan. He said the League would report on the work of the monitors over the first week and decide if more were needed there.
In the northern province of Idlib, armed Syrian rebels captured dozens
of members of the security forces by seizing two military checkpoints,
the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said the army deserters also clashed with security forces at a third
checkpoint, killing and wounding an unspecified number of troops loyal
to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Rami Abdelrahman, director of the British-based Observatory, said
Monday's operation took place in the Jabal al-Zawiyah region of Idlib.
It was not immediately clear how many people had been killed or captured
by the rebels, he said.
The Syrian government bars most international journalists from operating
in the country, making it difficult to verify accounts of incidents.
Meanwhile, an Assad-linked website, the Damas Post, reported Monday that the Syrian president was set to announce his
intention to form a new government which will include opposition
The report added that the Syrian
president was briefed by senior officials in the past three days
regarding discussions with opposition members. Sources quoted in the report claimed that Assad will defend the Syrian
army's actions, and stress the importance of domestic laws on protests.