Five dead in Syria, Qatar suggests sending troops

Opposition says five activists killed throughout the country; power, communications cut in Damascus.

Syrian protest against Assad near Homs_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian protest against Assad near Homs_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
At least five Syrians were reportedly killed in gunfire Saturday as the emir of Qatar suggested sending Arab troops to halt the bloodshed in Syria, the first Arab leader to propose such a move.
The Syrian government cut power and communications in restive areas of Damascus, and five were reported dead in protests around the country, Syrian opposition activists said according to Al Jazeera.
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Speaking with CBS's "60 Minutes," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said that he was interested in Arab military intervention in Syria.
Asked if he was in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria, Thani responded: "For such a situation to stop the killing ... some troops should go to stop the killing."
CBS said on its website that the interview would be broadcast on Sunday.
Qatar's prime minister heads the Arab League committee on Syria and has said killings have not stopped despite the presence of Arab monitors sent there last month to check whether the authorities are complying with an Arab peace plan.
In the preview of the interview on the website, the emir did not spell out how any Arab military intervention might work.
US official says Iran arming Syria to suppress protests
A recent visit of the heads of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force to Syria is the "strongest indication yet" that Iran is supplying the Assad regime with weapons, AFP quoted a senior US official as saying Saturday.
Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, visited Syria this month, AFP reported. "We think this relates to Iranian support for the Syrian government's attempts to suppress its people," the senior US official said.
“We are confident that he was received at the highest levels of the Syrian government, including by President Assad,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “The US government believes Iran has supplied Syria with munitions” for use in the military crackdown.
The United States has long suspected Iran of supplying Damascus with weapons as Assad struggles to cope with mass protests against his rule. 
Earlier in the week, Turkish customs officials intercepted four trucks suspected of carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria.
Iran officially denied reports about arms shipments to Syria. A statement by the Iranian embassy in Turkey obtained by CNN Friday stated: "We deny such claims and we would like to state that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees people's demands to be paid attention to as a way of providing domestic security and stability and believes that dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition is the way out from the current situation."
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The United Nations has said that more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in the unrest which erupted in March, inspired by Arab revolts elsewhere. Syrian uthorities accuse armed Islamist militants of killing 2,000 members of the security forces.
The crackdown against protests has been ongoing despite an Arab League monitoring mission, now about 165 strong, which began work on December 26. Its task is to verify that Syria is complying with an agreement to halt the crackdown. Some reports indicate that the killing of protesters has actually increased since the arrival of the monitors.