| 22.12,11. 07:44 AM |
22 Killed as Ban Urges Syria to Cooperate with Arab Monitors
At least 22 people were killed on Wednesday in clashes in the southern Syrian province of Daraa, where the protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted in March, a rights group said, as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the mounting death toll.
"Twenty-two people -- six deserters, a civilian and 15 members of the armed forces and security forces -- were killed and several dozen civilians were wounded in their homes," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said several of the civilians had been seriously wounded "during clashes in which both light and heavy machineguns were used in the town of Dael" in Daraa province.
The Britain-based rights group also said that "security forces attacked the Omari mosque in Dael."
Earlier, the main opposition grouping the Syrian National Council appealed for an "emergency meeting for the Arab League to condemn the bloody massacres ... and cooperate with the United Nations in taking the necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians."
The SNC put the toll over the past 48 hours at 250 dead.
"The secretary general (Ban Ki-moon) remains extremely concerned about the escalating crisis and the mounting death toll in Syria. As we have said repeatedly, the violence and killings must stop," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
Nesirky said the U.N. was encouraged by Syria's signature of an accord to let Arab League observers into the country to monitor claims against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
"Now it is critical for the government of Syria to extend its full cooperation to that mission," the spokesman added.
The U.N. said last week that more than 5,000 people had been killed in Assad's bloody crackdown on opposition protests, but concerns have been heightened by opposition accounts of more than 200 people killed in the past two days.
The new deaths come as an advance Arab League team prepares to head to Damascus on Thursday to prepare the arrival of about 500 observers.