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Syria backs Arab League initiative

CAIRO, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Damascus accepted an Arab League plan to end the bloodshed based on its principled stance against violence, an official said.

Yousef Ahmad, the Syrian envoy to the Arab League, flew Wednesday to Cairo to take part in meetings about the bloodshed in Syria.

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The United Nations estimates that more than 3,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Syria since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in mid-March.

Ahmad, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported, said "the articles of the Arab document are stemmed from the firm principles of the Syrian stance of rejecting violence, prohibiting the shedding of the Syrian blood, adopting national dialogue and supporting reform."

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Al-Jazeera reported that the Arab League deal calls on Damascus to pull its military equipment off the streets and meet with the Syrian opposition with the Arab League in Cairo.

Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani was quoted as saying Arab delegates were happy to have reached an agreement "and we will be even happier when it is implemented immediately."

Syrian authorities have issued pledges of reform in the past, though Western critics brushed off those promises as the bloodshed continued. Al-Jazeera notes anti-regime sources said Syrian forces killed 13 factory workers Wednesday at a village outside of Homs.

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Joshua Landis, a Syrian expert teaching at the University of Oklahoma, told Bloomberg News that Assad will likely do anything to stay in power.

"Assad will entertain any kind of reform so long as it leaves his family in power in the presidency and doesn't undermine his loyalist monopoly of the security institutions," he said.

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