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Al-Arabiya TV reported that Syrian security forces killed 19 people on Tuesday

In a related development the commander of Syria’s armed rebels threatened on Tuesday to step up attacks on President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, saying he was frustrated with Arab League monitors’ lack of progress in ending a government crackdown on protests.

“If we feel they (the monitors) are still not serious in a few days, or at most within a week, we will take a decision which will surprise the regime and the whole world,” the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Colonel Riad al-Asaad, told Reuters.

In another related development the Arab foreign ministers working on the Syrian crisis will meet in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the first report by an observer mission in Damascus, the Arab League said on Tuesday.

“The Arab League committee on Syria will meet Saturday at the Arab League headquarters,” Assistant Secretary General Ahmad Ben Hilli told reporters.

“The meeting will discuss a preliminary report by the head of the observer mission in Syria, General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, over the most important aspects collected by the team on the ground,” Ben Hilli said.

The monitors are in Damascus as part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria, which calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.

The mission has already been the focus of controversy since a first team of 50 observers arrived on December 26, with activists saying the authorities are continuing to press a brutal crackdown on dissent despite the presence of the monitors.

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