EU Calls on Syria to Implement Arab League Plan as Violence Continues

Activists say no sign of troops leaving urban areas after Arab League deal to end regime violence accepted; reports of at least 10 killed in day following agreement.

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Syria must quickly implement the commitments it made to the Arab League to end violence and allow opposition groups to operate, the European Union said on Thursday.

Syria agreed on Wednesday to an Arab League plan to withdraw its army from cities, release political prisoners and hold talks with the opposition, but activists said security forces killed 10 people in Homs on Thursday and there was no sign yet of troops leaving urban areas.

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in the ancient city of Palmyra in the heart of the Syrian desert, October 28, 2011.Credit: Reuters

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton welcomed the Arab League plan, but added in a statement: "It is now vital that the commitments made by the Syrian authorities to the Arab League are followed through fully and rapidly, under Arab scrutiny.

"This new initiative can only succeed if the Syrian authorities provide the space and security for opposition groups to work with all sectors of the Syrian population for a peaceful political transition."

The European Union has called on President Bashar Assad to step down and warned his government it will impose more sanctions if it continues its violent crackdown on dissent.

The European Union tightened sanctions against Syria last month, adding the Commercial Bank of Syria to a list of entities sanctioned in protest against the repression.

The EU imposed an embargo on crude oil imports from Syria in September and banned EU firms from new investment in its oil industry. The 27-state bloc also imposed sanctions on the main mobile phone firm, Syriatel, and the largest private company, Cham Holding.

The United Nations says 3,000 people have died in the unrest in Syria, including at least 187 children. The UN human rights chief has demanded the world act to stop the carnage and warned of full-blown civil war in the country.



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