'13 die' in Syria crackdown


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At least 13 people have died as Syrian security forces fired on anti-government protests and conducted sweeping raids, activists said.

The violence has spiked dramatically amid increasing signs that some protesters are taking up arms to protect themselves.

There have also been reports of intense battles between soldiers and army defectors, setting the stage for even more bloodshed.

The new clashes follow a Human Rights Watch report accusing Syrian forces of torturing and killing civilians in the rebellious province of Homs in an assault that indicates crimes against humanity. The group urged the Arab League to suspend Syria's membership during an emergency meeting on Saturday.

Damascus agreed to the Arab League-brokered plan last week, but the violence only accelerated.

Today, the country's two main activist groups reported at least 10 deaths in Homs and three others in Daraa in the south and elsewhere.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordinating Committees, an activist coalition, reported protests in the Damascus suburbs, Daraa and Idlib near the Turkish border.