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Syria

Arab League meet top Syrian official a day after deadly Damascus blasts

Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri

Arab League monitors are to meet Syria's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, on Saturday, a day after suicide bombers killed 44 people in attacks Damascus blamed on al-Qaeda but the opposition said were the regime's work. 

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The bombings, the first against the powerful security services in the heart of the capital since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March, came a day after the arrival of an advance group of monitors.

The delegates are in the country to pave the way for the arrival of a team of Arab League observers tasked with overseeing an end to the bloodshed

Muallem has said he expects the observers to vindicate his government's contention the unrest is the work of "armed terrorists," not overwhelmingly peaceful protesters as maintained by Western powers and human rights watchdogs.

The UN Security Council has condemned the attacks but remained deadlocked on a
full resolution on the crisis with the Russian and US ambassadors trading personal barbs.

Meanwhile, the bodies of four civilians who had been arrested were found on Saturday with signs of torture in the restive Homs province, activists said, urging the visiting Arab League team to document the cases.

"The corpses of four citizens were found this morning in the streets of the town of Hula and a fifth citizen was found in a critical condition," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement received in Nicosia.

The central province of Homs has been a focal point of the government's crackdown on anti-regime demonstrations as well as the site of fierce clashes between the army and mutinous soldiers, the activists say.
 

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