Activists: Deadly attacks in Homs kill at least 20

BEIRUT – Syrian activists say two grisly attacks have killed at least 20 civilians over the past 24 hours in a city at the heart of the country's uprising.

The Syrian opposition's two main activist groups said gunmen attacked factory workers in the village of Houla, killing at least 11 on Wednesday.
The wave of violence apparently started late Tuesday. Majd Amer, an activist in Homs, said gunmen attacked a bus carrying workers, killing nine passengers.
It was not clear who was behind the attacks. Machine gun fire could be heard on the streets Wednesday afternoon.
The violence comes as the Arab League was set to unveil its plan to ease violence in Syria, calling for the withdrawal of tanks and armored vehicles from the streets.
The proposal is the most wide-reaching yet to address the seven-month-old Syrian uprising and comes with a sharp rebuke to President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its bloody crackdowns on anti-government protesters. The United Nations says the some 3000 people have been killed since the revolt began in March.
The Arab League is expected to announce the plan at a Wednesday meeting at its Cairo headquarters. Syria's state-run media said late Tuesday that Damascus has agreed to an Arab League plan, but a senior Arab League official said the body had not yet received any response from Syria.
Arab diplomats involved in the process told The Associated Press the proposal also calls for release of all political prisoners, a new constitution and free presidential and parliamentary elections that should be monitored by foreign observers. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal is not yet public.
The plan also provides for a dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition representatives in Cairo. However the opposition has refused to enter into any dialogue as long as Assad remains in power.
The proposal is the latest in a string of international efforts to ease the crisis, which has led to international condemnation of the Syrian regime. European Union and U.S. sanctions are chipping away at Syria's ailing economy and many world leaders have called on Assad to step down.
Throughout the crisis, Syria has remained defiant. In recent days, it has mined its border with Lebanon, apparently to prevent opposition figures from fleeing, and Assad has vowed that the Middle East will burn if foreign powers intervene.
Syria's ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League, Youssef Ahmed, returned to Cairo Tuesday after a brief visit to Damascus with Syria's response to the proposals, the diplomats said.
The diplomats said the countries disagreed on parts of the proposal, with Gulf Arab nations pushing to suspend Syria's league membership if it does not accept, while others like Egypt and Sudan pushed for continued engagement with the regime.
All agreed, however, on the importance of not letting Syria become another Libya, where eight months of brutal civil was preceded the capture and killing of Muammar Qadhafi.

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