Syria 'hopes' to implement Arab deal, violence continues

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulfattah Ammura says Syria committed to plan; tanks kill three in Homs.

Aleppo Rally 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Aleppo Rally 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Syria is committed to carrying out an Arab League plan and cease violence, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulfattah Ammura told The Daily Telegraph on Saturday amid reports of renewed killing.
"Syria means what it says and we will implement the Arab League agreement, every aspect of it. If we agree to something, we do it," Ammura said. "We are working on it. We will see it very shortly, hopefully before Eid [Sunday]."
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Within hours of the statement, a Syrian rights group said that tank fire killed at least three civilians in the besieged city of Homs in a continuation of regime efforts to put down a 7-month anti-government uprising.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, headed by exiled dissident Rami Amdelrahmen, said the three were killed in tank bombardments on the Bab Amro district of Homs, which have been going on since Tuesday.
The violence follows a day of bloodshed on Friday, in which troops fired on protests that erupted after Friday prayers in many towns, killing at least seven people in Kanaker, south of Damascus, nine in the city of Homs, two in Hama to the north and one in Saqba, near the capital, activists said.
"Lots of people fell on the ground with bullet wounds and we are afraid some will not make it," Mohammed, a Kanaker resident, said by telephone.
Tough media curbs have made it hard to verify events in Syria since protests against President Bashar Assad began in March, inspired by revolts against Arab autocrats elsewhere.
Syrian state television denied any killings, and aired footage it said were from areas where protests were reported, showing crowds calmly leaving mosques after prayers.
But YouTube footage, purportedly from many towns and cities, showed thousands of people waving flags, with some shouting: "Mother do not cry, Bashar's days are numbered."
One clip, from the town of Taybet al-Imam, near Hama, showed crowds marching along a main street where huge Syrian flags from the pre-Baathist era were draped over buildings, along with the Libyan flag adopted by those who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.
Homs has emerged as a protest flashpoint and a centre for emerging armed resistance to government forces. Activists said tank and sniper fire killed at least 22 people in the central city on Thursday, mainly in the old Bab Amro quarter.
The violence in Homs, where tanks were bombarding for the second straight day, illustrates how difficult it will be to implement the Arab League plan in a country locked in a deadly struggle between Assad and foes of his 11-year rule.
Diplomats who have seen the agreement say it lacks any timeline for implementation.