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Syria not close to Arab League deadline

Syria not close to Arab League deadline
Syrian mourners pray for the body of anti-regime protester shot dead by security forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the previous day during a group funeral procession in the town of Nawa, Darra city, Syria, in November 11, 2011 . Syria freed more than 1,000 prisoners in an apparent last-ditch bid to placate Arab leaders as Turkey and the United Nations warned President Bashar al-Assad to stop killing his own people. UPI.. | License Photo

DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Syria's military continued the government clampdown on pro-democracy protesters Saturday as an Arab League deadline loomed.

The league set a Saturday midnight deadline for the government of President Bashar al-Assad to come up with a formal statement on a non-violent resolution to the anti-government unrest, the BBC reported.

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However, the league's deadline announced in Cairo this week didn't appear to phase Assad's Alawite Shiite government, The Daily Telegraph said.

Rights groups said 11 people were killed in demonstrations Friday.

The Arab League of states suspended the membership of Syria this week and called for 500 monitors throughout the country, while the government in Damascus said it would only tolerate a delegation of 40, the BBC said.

International pressure is mounting on Assad to step down as the estimated death toll from the unrest surpasses 3,500 people, the report said.

Britain, France, the United States and Syrian ally Russia have called for Assad to step down, although none have expressed intentions to call for military action as NATO did with Libya to depose its late dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

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