At least 24 killed as Syria cracks down


At least 24 people are believed to have been killed in violence across Syria, as the visiting Red Cross chief sought access to those detained in more than five months of anti-regime protests.

As more bloodletting gripped the country on Sunday, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said Syria has agreed to host him for a visit, to help push for a peaceful outcome to the crisis.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the five-nation BRICS group – Brazil, Russia,India, China and South Africa – are determined not to allow a Libyan-style solution in that country.

Activists said security forces cracking down on democracy protesters killed 12 people on Sunday during operations in northwestern and central Syria, including a woman.

The state news agency SANA also gave a toll of 12 dead – including six troops – when an “armed terrorist group” ambushed a bus in central Syria.

The unrest came as International Committee of the Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem for a briefing on Syria’s efforts to “restore order” and introduce reforms, blaming “armed groups” for the unrest, SANA said.

Kellenberger’s office had said he was expected to meet President Bashar al-Assad to discuss access to prisoners and areas of unrest. The ICRC chief arrived on Saturday and was due to leave on Monday afternoon.

His office said that during a previous visit in June “an understanding was reached” for “enhanced access to areas of unrest, and negotiations would take place concerning ICRC visits to detainees”.

More than 2200 people have been killed in Syria since almost daily protests began on March 15, according to the United Nations, while human rights groups say more than 10,000 people are behind bars. AFP




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