International

As Arab Monitors Continue Deployment, Syria Releases 755 Prisoners

In this photo taken on Dec. 21, anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they wear Syrian revolution flags during a demonstration in the Baba Amr area in Homs. i

In this photo taken on Dec. 21, anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they wear Syrian revolution flags during a demonstration in the Baba Amr area in Homs. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP
In this photo taken on Dec. 21, anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they wear Syrian revolution flags during a demonstration in the Baba Amr area in Homs.

In this photo taken on Dec. 21, anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they wear Syrian revolution flags during a demonstration in the Baba Amr area in Homs.

AP

As Arab League monitors continue to deploy across the country, Syrian state TV said authorities had released 755 people detained during the protests. According to the BBC, state TV said the people had been involved "in recent incidents," but "their hands were not stained with blood."

The release of prisoners comes as Syria's President Bashar Assad has been faced with mounting pressure to step down. The Arab League monitors are in the country to make sure his regime is putting into place a peace plan the country agreed to in early November. The plan called for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of military forces from cities and the release of prisoners.

As Mark reported yesterday, Syria also suspended its attack on Homs, a city that has been central to the resistance against the government.

All those things sound like good news for the protesters, but Al Jazeera reports that despite those moves, government forces continued to clash with the opposition. Quoting activists, Al Jazeera reports that 13 people have been killed today in "fresh violence:"

"Six of the dead were said to be taking part in an anti-government demonstration in the central city of Hama on Wednesday. Local rights groups say others were killed in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.

"Video shared by activists from the protest in Hama showed gunshots being fired and black smoke rising above the city. Dozens of men were marching through the streets, chanting 'Where are the Arab monitors?'"

"In Deraa, the cradle of the nine-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government, meanwhile, reports from a UK-based rights group indicate that army defectors killed at least four Syrian soldiers."

The Syrian government has defended its actions, saying the rebellion is led by terrorists. But the United Nations has cited the Assad regime as committing crimes against humanity. The U.N. estimates that 5,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the nine-month uprising.

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