Syrians rally Friday to support ‘free army;’ Arab League chief warns of civil war


Syrian opposition groups called on Friday for mass protests across the country to rally support for the “Free Syrian Army” fighting the security forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will come out (to protest) day and night to honor Syria and its martyrs and its free people,” the Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assaad reported in its Facebook page,” in persistent challenge to the regime’s killing machine.

Local Coordination Committees reported that 34 were killed on Monday, including two children, three defectors, and 8 unidentified dead bodies in Maret Noman National Hospital and 11 in Idlib.

The group reported that a 13-year old girl, Asma Hajazi, also was shot dead by Assad’s security forces stationed near Rasatan.

“They fired on her family’s vehicle that was traveling from Hamouya (Damascus Suburbs) to Manegh Village in Aleppo. Asma was shot by three bullets injuring the chest, hand, and groin,” the group reported on its Website.

The head of the Arab League said in remarks broadcast on Friday he was worried about the prospect of a Syrian civil war with consequences for the country’s neighbors.

“Yes I fear a civil war and the events that we see and hear about now could lead to a civil war,” said Nabil Elaraby, whose body currently has monitors in Syria checking its compliance with an agreement aimed at halting a crackdown on protesters.

“Any problems in Syria will have consequences for the neighboring states,” he said in an interview with the Egyptian al-Hayat channel.

The Arab League’s monitoring mission is struggling to salvage credibility as its members start to walk out, the opposition calls it a toothless failure and killings of anti-government protesters continue unabated.

Elaraby described reports from the mission head as “worrying,” though he added that there was “no doubt that the pace of killing has fallen with the presence of the observers.”

“Scenes of horror”

But an Arab League monitor, Anwar Malek, who had resigned, said the mission was powerless to prevent what he said were the “scenes of horror” he had seen in Homs.

“The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people.”

Malek’s resignation was the latest blow to a mission already criticized for inefficiency and whose members have come under attack this week from both Assad supporters and protesters.

Under the Arab peace plan, Syrian authorities are supposed to stop attacking peaceful protests, withdraw troops and tanks from the streets, free detainees and open a political dialogue.

Washington’s U.N. envoy, Susan Rice, said a U.N. official told the Security Council on Tuesday that about 400 people had been killed since the Arab monitors began work on Dec. 26, which she said was a much higher daily toll than before they arrived.