No Changes in Syria Despite Arab League Deal

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Arab League's announcement that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to end attacks on anti-government protesters vaporized before the "ink dried."

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby promised Wednesday's agreement would bring about a "paradigm shift" in the mounting death toll, estimated by the U.N. at more than 3,000.

The deal called on Bashar to withdraw his troops, tanks and armored vehicles from the cities, end violence against demonstrators, release political prisoners, hold talks with the opposition outside the country, and allow foreign journalists to return to Syria.

Not one of the stipulations has been realized, and the killing continues unabated, according to eyewitness reports.

On Thursday, government troops shot dead at least 20 people in Homs, Syria's third largest city, and arrested dozens of others, AFP reported. Some observers put Thursday's death toll at 34.

"We informed the [Arab League's] secretary general of our concerns about the regime's lack of credibility to carry out the proposal, notably the city of Homs was attacked yesterday and today," said National Council member Samir al-Nashar, who led the opposition's talks in Cairo.

Opposition spokesman Momen Kwafatiya said Bashar agreed to the proposal solely to avoid suspension of Syria's membership in the Arab League and that he had no intention of abiding by the agreement, The Associated Press reported.

"The [Arab League's] decision did not meet the aspirations of the Syrian people," Kwafatiya concluded.

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