Syrian opposition calls for UN to help end crisis

The plea from Burhan Ghalioun, the Paris-based leader of the Syrian National Council, comes as at least seven more people are killed in raids.

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BEIRUT // Syria's top opposition leader called on the Arab League yesterday to bring the UN into the effort to stop the regime's bloody crackdown on dissent, as security forces pressed ahead with raids and arrests and killed at least seven more people.

Burhan Ghalioun, the Paris-based leader of the Syrian National Council, made the plea as Arab League officials were setting up teams of foreign monitors as part of their plan aimed at ending nine months of turmoil that the UN says has killed more than 5,000 people.

Opposition groups say the Arab League is not strong enough to resolve the crisis, which is escalating into armed clashes between military defectors and security forces, including a double suicide bombing that shook Damascus on Friday.

"I call upon the Arab League to ask the Security Council to adopt its plan to increase possibilities of its success and avoid giving the regime an opportunity not to carry out its obligations," Mr Ghalioun said. The opposition council "holds the international community to its responsibilities and asks them to use all available means to put an end to the tragedies experienced by the Syrian people", he added. "The barbaric massacre must stop now."

The Arab League has begun sending observers into Syria to monitor compliance with its plan to end to the crackdown on opponents.

President Bashar Al Assad agreed to the League plan after it warned that it could turn to the UN Security Council to help stop the violence.

The plan requires the government to remove its security forces and heavy weapons from streets, start talks with opposition leaders and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.

Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Al Dabi, the head of the Arab League observer team, travelled to Damascus on Saturday after meeting with the Arab League chief, Nabil Elaraby, to discuss arrangements. More monitors are due to arrive today.

Yesterday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees activist group said troops shelled the town of Juraithi, killing one person, and that security forces killed three others in Kouriyeh.