Government forces kill 13 in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Syrian government forces Monday killed at least 13 people, activists said, as Arab League officials appeared divided on whether to send troops to the country.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight civilians were killed in Homs, five of them shot by security forces who fired on people in line at a bakery, CNN reported. Nine others were wounded.


The government forces killed five soldiers Monday during a firefight between government and opposition forces in Idlib, while 15 soldiers defected, the group said.

The Syrian army also bombarded homes in Zabadani, a suburb about 30 miles west of Damascus, wounding at least 20 people, the Local Coordinating Committees, an opposition group, said.

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The LCC said security forces also raided a university housing facility in Aleppo and arrested nine students.


Syrian-run media said an "armed terrorist group" fatally shot Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Hamid al-Awwad in the Gotta area.

Meanwhile, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said intervention would signal that the Syrian conflict "will spread across the whole region, opening the way to all powers, following the example of Turkey, Israel, Iran and Hezbollah," Britain's Guardian reported Monday on its blog about Syria.

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Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the emir of Qatari, said he now favored sending troops "to stop the killing" in Syria, becoming the first Arab leader to call for international military intervention.

Arab League monitor Jafaar Kubaida said the emir's proposal likely would be discussed by the regional alliance in a special panel on Syria Saturday but it was too soon to predict what the outcome would be, Voice of America reported.

"That's going to be discussed during the meeting with the Arab ministers. So it's just a suggestion from one party," Kubaida said.

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Human rights observers say killings have gone on in Syria during the Arab League mission, which began late last month, adding about 400 more civilian deaths to the U.N. estimate of more than 5,000 people killed in 10 months of anti-government protests.


A newspaper in the United Arab Emirates urged the Arab League to refer Syria to the U.N. Security Council, The Guardian reported.

In its editorial, The National suggested Qatar's talk of military intervention would be counterproductive without international backing

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"If the case is not referred to the Security Council, mere threats of intervention only play into the hands of [Syrian President Bashar Assad]" the editorial said. "For all of the risks and regional consequences, military intervention would be a great threat to the regime's survival, but merely talking about it strengthens Mr. Assad's argument about a 'foreign conspiracy.'"

Backers of Assad's government staged a rally in Aleppo as activists reported raids on student housing in the city.

Syria's state news agency said students at the Sunday rallies were protesting foreign involvement in Syria. The activist group Local Coordination Committees in Syria said several students were injured when security forces raided Aleppo University dorms. Activists alleged that ambulances were used to arrest people wounded in the raids.

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Middle East news networks reported Imad Ghalioun, a member of the Syrian Parliament who represented Homs, said he has joined the opposition.

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