Arab League to Discuss Syria Mission Amid Fresh Violence Near Border With Turkey

Syrian activist reports shelling in Sarakeeb, Idlib province; violence comes hours after Arab foreign ministers to meet in Cairo to discuss Syria observer mission.

One person was killed and 20 wounded Sunday in Syria's Idlib province near the border with Turkey ahead of an Arab League meeting to discuss the initial findings of its observer mission.

"The shelling was renewed on the city of Sarakeeb where a sit-in was being held in the city centre against the regime," Ahmad Abdullah, a Syrian activist based in Idlib told dpa by phone.

Syria Jan. 6, 2012 (AFP photo / SANA)
AFP photo / SANA

"Shrapnel from the shelling hit the tents of the (protesters) killing one person and wounding at least 20," he said.

The violence came hours before a group of Arab foreign ministers were to meet in Cairo to discuss the observers' mission to Syria.

The Arab League ruled out considering a withdrawal of its widely criticized peace observers from Syria, ahead of the Cairo meeting to assess the performance of the mission.

The Arab League observers have been in Syria since late December to monitor compliance with a peace plan, under which the government promised to withdraw its military and tanks from the streets, stop using force against civilians and release detainees.

Syrian activists said Saturday that at least 27 people were killed across the country. More than 5,000 civilians have been killed in the uprising that started against President Bashar Assad's regime in mid-March, according to United Nations estimates.

According to an Arab diplomat based in Beirut, the ministers are to discuss a proposal by Qatar to send UN human rights experts to Syria to assist the observers.

They will also discuss how the observers can work more independently, the diplomat told dpa, as they are currently always escorted by Syrian security officials.