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19 Nov, 2011 17:44

Syria: Arab League deadline expires, clashes continue

The Arab League ultimatum for Syria’s leadership to end violence has expired. Meanwhile, fresh clashes have erupted across the country.

New violence came a day after Syria agreed to allow Arab observers into the country to oversee a peace plan proposed by the Arab League. The deadline for Damascus to put an end to the violence expired at 2200 GMT on Saturday.

Meanwhile the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees claim the regime’s latest attacks on opposition occurred early Saturday, a day after 15 civilians, including two children, had reportedly  been  killed by government forces.Syria's decision to accept observers came on Friday after surprisingly heavy pressure fromthe Arab League, which brokered the plan. Earlier this week LAS suspended Syria from the 22-member organization for failing to end the crackdown.Pressure on the Arab country has been mounting throughout the week with France insisting it's now too late for the regime to try and save itself through reforms.However, Russia believes the situation is being dramatized by foreign parties, and stressed that opposition groups should also lay down their arms.Russia intends to assume a restrained and cautious position on Syria at the UN Security Council, said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a press conference   following negotiations with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Friday.Meanwhile, Turkey and Jordan announced plans to establish two buffer zones for refugees on Syrian territory.Dr. Tawfik Shomar, a professor in philosophy at Philadelphia University in Jordan, believes that it is unlikely that Jordan or Turkey are willing to interfere while Syria is doing everything in its power to overcome the situation at home. Shomar says that the only way Turkey and Jordan would take this step is with the backup of the international community. However, if the zones were created the situation would deteriorate fast into an fully-fledged war, believes Shomar.

And Jason Ditz, a political analyst at the US-based website Antiwar.com, believes that it’s never too late to reform, but the will to reform is a serious question in Syria. “So far we have had a lot of promises of reform and very little action. I think the Assad regime could reform, although if it had reformed six months ago there would be less of this mess than there is today.”