Armed clashes erupted in Syria Sunday, killing at least 15 civilians and six government troops, activists said. Isolated and faced with a possible civil war, Syria appeared to be bending toward allowing Arab League observers in as a step toward ending the conflict.
The Al-Arabiya TV channel said it had information from the Qatari prime minister that Syrian President Bashar Assad will sign an observer deal but gave no further details. Last month Syria agreed to an Arab League plan but balked at its implementation.
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The Arab League has given Syria until Wednesday to sign a protocol to allow observers into the country, or else it will likely turn to the UN Security Council for action to try to end the deadly violence against regime opponents.
Syria's state-run news agency SANA quoted Assad Sunday as saying in front of an Iraqi delegation that Syria has "dealt positively with proposals presented because it's in (Syria's) interest for the world to know what is happening in Syria."
Assad to accept monitors? (Photo: AP)
Syria has in the past said it would accept to have the monitors but then placed conditions that were rejected by the Arab League.
The head of the Iraqi delegation met later Sunday with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in Cairo. He told reporters Iraq wished to play "an active role in supporting Arab League efforts" on Syria which he described as the "sole and appropriate framework" to solve the crisis in Syria.
Approaching civil war?
Attacks by Syrian security forces and clashes with gunmen believed to be army defectors continued in Syria Sunday in the latest sign that the nation's uprising may be deteriorating into civil war.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an army officer was among the six soldiers killed in the town of Qusair in Homs province, near the border with Lebanon.
"Three armored vehicles were destroyed, and those inside were killed and wounded," according to the group, which relies on a network of activists inside the country. It said the clashes also resulted in the "partial destruction of some homes."
Heavy gun battles were also reported Sunday in several villages in the restive Jabal al-Zawiya region in the northern Idlib province near the Turkish border, where many defectors are believed to be operating.
The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees activist network said at least 15 civilians were killed in clashes and shootings by security forces toward civilian areas in the Homs region, as well as the Jabal al-Zawiya area and the town of Maaret al-Numan in the north.
Among the dead was a young man who was killed when security forces opened fire during a funeral of a man killed earlier in the eastern Deir el-Zour province.
Syria has seen a sharp escalation in armed clashes recently, raising concerns the country of 22 million is slipping toward civil war nine months into the uprising against Assad.
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