New Arab League deadline for Syria as violent crackdown continues
The Arab League is waiting for Syria's response to a Sunday deadline to allow in observers to monitor the country's unrest. The new deadline came as 23 people were reported killed on Saturday across Syria, and after the UN Human Rights Council urged tougher action against Damascus.
In addition, an Arab League ministerial committee has imposed a ban on travel to arab states on19 top officials.
The list of 19 Syrian officials banned from travel to Arab states and whose assets are being frozen by those countries include Assad's brother Maher, his cousin telecoms magnate Rami Makhluf, and military and intelligence figures.
Saturday's meeting also decided to cut by half all Arab flights to and from Syria effective from 15 December, including those of the national carrier Syrian Air, a statement said.
On 27 November, the Arab League approved sweeping sanctions against Assad's government over the crackdown - the first time that the bloc has enforced punitive measures of such magnitude on a member.
The vote on sanctions came after Damascus defied an earlier ultimatum to accept observers under an Arab League peace plan.
On the ground, 11 civilians were among 23 people killed in Syria on Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Most of the deaths occured in the northwestern province of Idlib, a focal point of anti-regime protests raging since March.
Meanwhile, in Geneva on Friday, an emergency meeting of the Human Rights Council passed a resolution "strongly condemning the continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities."
Damascus rejected the resolution as "unjust" and said it was "prepared in advance by parties hostile to Syria."
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