'Syrian forces kill 10' after attack on monitors

Observatory NGO says peaceful protesters attacked; Damascus reaffirms commitment to League monitors' safety.

Syrian protest against Assad near Homs_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian protest against Assad near Homs_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
BEIRUT - Syrian forces shot dead 10 people in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, most of them young men protesting peacefully against President Bashar Assad, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The British-based Observatory also said that a man was killed in Homs by gunfire coming from a checkpoint in the city.
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The United Nations says that more than 5,000 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on 10 months of protests against his rule. Syria says it faces a campaign by Islamist militants who have killed 2,000 members of the security forces.
The new shooting reports follow a Monday incident in which eleven members of a team of Arab monitors were injured when their vehicles were attacked by protesters in the Syrian port city of Latakia.
The Arab League announced Tuesday that the attack would not disrupt its operations. "Eleven Arab League monitors among a group visiting Latakia were wounded when protesters attacked vehicles transporting the team. No side fired shots," the head of the League operations room in Cairo, Adnan al-Khodheir, told Reuters, adding that injuries were "very light" and no one was admitted to hospital.
"This incident did not affect the work of the monitors in Syria," he said.
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Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem responded to the attack on the League monitors on Tuesday, stating that Damascus was committed to cooperating with Arab League monitors and ensuring their safety. In a statement to the head of the monitoring mission, Moualem said that Syria "will continue to bear its responsibility to secure and protect those monitors."
Also Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke in public for the first time since June. In a speech delivered at Damascus University and broadcast on state television, Assad blamed "foreign planning" for the 10-month-old popular uprising in which thousands of people have been killed. He also vowed to strike "terrorists with an iron fist."