Syria ready to let monitors stay, rebel commander calls for help from UN
Damascus opposes broadening the scope of the Arab League observer mission, the source at the League said, but would accept a one-month extension of its mandate which expires on Thursday.
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Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday that what it called terrorists had fired rockets, killing an officer and five of his men at a rural checkpoint near Damascus. Seven others were wounded in the incident, a day after gunmen assassinated a brigadier general near the capital.Skip to next paragraph
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Eight people were killed when a bomb hit a minibus on the Aleppo-Idlib road, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In Homs, tank fire crashed into the Khalidiya district after a night rally against Assad there, activists said. YouTube footage showed a crowd dancing at the rally and waving the old Syrian flag used before the Baath Party seized power in 1963.
The British-based Observatory said eight people were killed in violence in Homs, a flashpoint city of one million racked by unrest, crackdowns and Sunni-Alawite sectarian killings.
Activists also reported fighting between rebels and troops trying to edge into Khalidiya, a neighbourhood that is home to Sunni tribesmen and lies next to the Alawite district of Nozha.
Tanks were firing sporadically at the rebel-held town of Zabadani, near the Lebanese border, which has been under attack since Friday, activists said. They added that several soldiers who had tried to defect to the opposition had been killed.
Syrian forces shot dead a man at a roadblock in the restive Damascus suburb of Qatana, they said, and an activist was killed by sniper fire in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun.
The United States, the European Union, Turkey and the Arab League have announced sanctions against Syria, but while these have hurt its economy, they have yet to prompt Assad to change course. Opposition to sanctions from some of Syria's trading partners, notably Lebanon and Iraq, also dilutes their impact.
Security Council members have been divided for months over the uprising against Assad, with Western countries pushing for strong condemnation of the government's bloody crackdown butRussia seeking to shield Damascus.
In October, Russia and China vetoed a European-drafted resolution that threatened possible sanctions. Russia presented its own draft on Dec. 15 and Western countries agreed to discuss and negotiate it, but there has been little progress since then. (Additional reporting by Ayman Samir in Cairo, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, and Mariam Karouny and Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by David Stamp)