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      Slaughter of Innocents Continues in Syria

      At least 16 people died Sunday by mid-day in Syria, including two who were tortured by government forces, human rights activists said.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 1/8/2012, 3:16 PM

      Arab League observer speaks with Idlib residents about massacre
      Arab League observer speaks with Idlib residents about massacre
      Ugarit News

      At least 11 people died early Sunday in clashes between government forces and army defectors in the province of Dera'a. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the battle took place at the village of Basr al-Harir. 

      By mid-afternoon, the Syrian Revolution General Commission had also reported five more killed, including two who were tortured, according to the Al Arabiya English-language website.

      On Saturday, 27 people were killed in attacks by Assad loyalists in various locations around the country, including eight who died in the central city of Homs, a hotbed of opposition. Residents of the city said attacks have continued despite the presence of Arab League monitors; the shelling is simply delayed until after the observers leave the area and return to their hotels, one person told CNN. "They take the [Arab] Leaguers where they want," he was quoted by the U.S.-based news network. "These are massacres. We have dozens dying daily. Stores are closed... civilian life is at a halt."

      The Arab League also met Sunday to discuss the growing death toll in Syria, and to decide whether it was time to invite the United Nations to join the 22-member body in trying to force President Bashar al-Assad to end the carnage against his people.

      Dozens were wounded and at least 26 died in an explosion Friday that struck a Damascus neighborhood near an elementary school, according to the official state-run SANA news agency. Most of the victims were civilians, according to the report, which blamed the suicide bombing on "armed terrorist gangs." One week ago, residents in the province of Idlib told Arab League observers that Assad forces were switching signs on the villages in order to cover up their atrocities. They tried to convince them to come with them to see the mass graves, only to be told, "Don't worry, we'll be here for at least a month," as seen in video footage filmed by a local Ugarit News crew. 

      Another group of local villagers told the observers that some 200 residents had been murdered in nearby Kan Safrah, but that government troops had switched the local signs when monitors arrived to inspect the village, so that all they saw were live and healthy supporters waiting to greet them.