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Syrian Opposition Calls for UN Meeting on Assad ‘Massacre’

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Syrian National Council, an opposition alliance seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad, called for a United Nations’ Security Council meeting to address alleged “massacres” and “large-scale genocide.”

State forces have killed 250 people in the past 48 hours in the regions of Idlib, Homs and al-Zawiyah, the council said in an e-mailed statement. The regions should be be declared “safe zones,” it said.

Bloomberg is unable to verify the charges as the Syrian government restricts foreign media access in the country and places curbs on local journalists.

Assad has blamed the unrest on foreign provocateurs, and his forces have used tanks, armored vehicles and artillery to crush the uprising. The UN estimates that more than 5,000 civilians and army defectors have been killed in the unrest that started in mid-March.

The government agreed this week to an Arab League protocol to allow monitors into the country to verify compliance with an agreement to halt the violence. The Dec. 19 signing came as the Arab League moved closer to asking the UN to address the crisis.

Syria agreed to the monitors after the Arab group agreed to 70 percent of the amendments sought by the government, foreign minister Walid Al-Muallem said Dec. 19 without elaborating.

About 500 observers are set to deploy around Syria in groups of 10, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Arabi said yesterday in Cairo.

The Arab League imposed sanctions on Syria on Nov. 27, increasing economic and political pressure on Assad. Efforts by the U.S. and Europe, which have also imposed sanctions, to get a condemnation of Assad’s crackdown at the Security Council have been blocked by Russia and China.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zaid Sabah Abd Alhamid in Washington at zalhamid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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