Syrian security forces killed at least 12 people Saturday in clashes against defectors and protesters, according to media reports.
Many of the casualties were reported in the rebel-stronghold city of Homs, one of the main centers of anti-government protests, the BBC reported. The violence led to UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon squarely placing blame for the violence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"As a leader of Syria [Bashar al-Assad] is responsible for all that has happened," the UN secretary general told Al Jazeera. "He is the leader, and has a very important responsibility to protect the lives of his own people, therefore I would urge him again to stop immediately killing his people."
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The continued violence on Saturday has also driven France to call on world powers to “save the Syrian people” amid fears from opposition groups that Assad’s forces are planning to storm Homs.
"France is extremely concerned about information of a massive military operation being prepared by Syrian security authorities against the city of Homs," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Turkey-based opposition Syrian National Council said in a statement about Homs on Friday: "News reports, videos and information from activists indicate that the regime is preparing to commit a massacre in the city to extinguish the flame of the revolution and 'discipline' the rest of Syria's cities."
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Turkey warned Syria on Friday it would be ready to protect itself if the 9-month-old revolt that has killed more than 4,000 people spills out to its borders.
However, some activists say the SNC’s statement was intended to spur international intervention, as there were reports saying signs of imminent danger in Homs were not present, according to Al Jazeera.
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Reports of the deadly events in Syria have been hard to confirm independently by many news outlets as most foreign journalists and local reporters have been barred from moving freely in the country.
To continue diplomatic efforts, the Arab League said they plan to meet toward the end of next week in Cairo to discuss an Arab-brokered plan the Syria would agree to with conditions calling for sending observers into the country.