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Arab League, Syria Reach Deal on 'Reforms'

The Arab League has allegedly reached a deal with Syria on "reforms" to end government violence against protesters.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/11/2011, 12:39 PM

Homs Protest 17.7.11
Homs Protest 17.7.11
Screen Capture

The Arab Leagued announced Sunday it has reached a deal with Syria on "reforms" aimed at ending government violence against protesters.

Nabil el-Araby, head of the Arab League, said he reached the agreement during talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Saturday.

"We have reached agreement on steps to carry out the reforms, [and] the elements will be submitted to the council of the Arab League," which meets in Cairo on Monday," he said in a statement to journalists in Egypt.

According to the state-run Syrian news agency SANA, el-Araby "affirmed the Arab League's rejection of all forms of foreign interference in Syrian internal affairs." The two leaders also allegedly agreed on "a number of practical steps for speeding up the reform process in Syria."

However, no concrete details were forthcoming from either leader. A number of foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League had urged Assad weeks ago to end his brutal crackdown on protesters "and resort to reason before it's too late," according to a report posted Sunday by Al Jazeera.

El-Araby was believed to have called for the withdrawal of troops and tanks from Syrian cities and towns, and to push for elections within three years -- but no sign of such a move was seen in any of the announcements following the meeting in Damascus.

Meanwhile the Syrian activist network, the Local Coordination Committees, told journalists that 15 people were killed by Syrian government troops on Saturday.

Twelve of the victims had died in another crackdown in the central city of Homs. The other three murders were reported in the northern Idlib province in the village of al-Rami and in Saraqeb.

The northern Idlib province and the central city of Hom are both considered "hotspots" of rebellion by the Syrian government, and are areas to which the security troops return repeatedly to carry out murderous operations, none of which have stopped the weekly Friday protests across the country.