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Arab Officials Meet Assad As 13 Killed In Syria


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
A delegation of senior Arab officials has met with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, as renewed violence in the country claimed at least 13 more lives.

The group, led by Qatar's prime minister, is in Damascus in a push for reconciliation between the regime and the opposition.

This followed claims by the Arab League's Syrian representative, Youssef Ahmad, of a "conspiracy" against Assad.

State television said Assad met an Arab League ministerial team, but gave no details.

The Arab League's call for reconciliation was condemned by Syrian opposition groups, who refuse to hold talks with the government unless Assad steps down from power and ends violence against protesters.

In Damascus, tens of thousands of Syrians packed a central square in a show of support for Assad.

Meanwhile, a rights group said 13 people, including nine Syrian troops, were killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said suspected deserters killed nine soldiers in an attack with a rocket-propelled grenade in the town of Hamrat, north of the central city of Homs.

In Homs, army fire killed four protesters as inhabitants held a general strike reportedly enforced by anti-Assad army deserters.

The United Nations says some 3,000 people have been killed in the regime's brutal crackdown on protests, which began shortly after the antiregime uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

compiled from agency reports