Syrian forces kill 11, protesters urge Arab League to act

Activists say 7 civilians, 1 defecting soldier killed in Homs, 3 killed in Hama; rights group calls on Syria to be referred to ICC.

Syrian protesters with old Syrian flags 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)
Syrian protesters with old Syrian flags 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)
AMMAN - Syrian security forces killed 11 people on Friday as protesters called on the Arab League to suspend Damascus's membership in response to continued violence, activists said.
Local activists in Homs, which has suffered the highest death toll of any Syrian province since an uprising against President Bashar Assad broke out in March, said security forces killed seven civilians and one defecting soldier.
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Another three people were killed in Hama, they said.
"The people want (Syria's) membership to be suspended," shouted a crowd at a rally in the Deir Baalba district of Homs, appealing to the 22-member Arab League to act against Damascus when it meets in Cairo on Saturday.
"Proud Homs!" they shouted, waving the green, white and black flag used by Syria before the ruling Baath Party seized power nearly 50 years ago.
In Homs alone Syrian security forces have killed at least 104 people since the Arab League initiative was agreed nine days ago, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued on Friday.
"The systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, constitute crimes against humanity," the group said.
It called on the Arab League to suspend Syria, request the United Nations impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence, and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
The United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on the protests, inspired by uprisings which have toppled autocrats in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Syrian authorities, who have barred most foreign media from the country, blame armed groups for the violence and say 1,100 members of the security forces have been killed.
Alongside the mainly peaceful protests there have been increasing attacks on security forces by army defectors. Activists said at least 30 civilians and 26 soldiers were killed on Thursday, and the daily death tolls this month have been some of the highest since the uprising first erupted.