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Arab League holds emergency Syria debate

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:40 PM EDT, Sun October 16, 2011
A woman shouts slogans during a demonstration on October 15 in Paris in support of the Syrian people.
A woman shouts slogans during a demonstration on October 15 in Paris in support of the Syrian people.
  • NEW: Syrian security forces kill 11, an opposition group says
  • The Arab League is considering suspending Syria from the body
  • The Syrian ambassador blames foreign influences for the unrest in his country
  • About 3,000 people have died in months of protests against the government

(CNN) -- The Arab League, which held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday about the ongoing unrest in Syria, is considering suspending the country from the organization.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of six Gulf Arab states, is spearheading the motion, which would need two-thirds of the assembly vote to pass.

In his opening remarks, Syrian ambassador Yousef Ahmad blamed foreign influences for the unrest in his country. He cited the influence of Arabic-language news groups, which he said are targeting Syria.

The Arab League meeting comes after more than seven months of protests against the government in Syria in which the United Nations says about 3,000 people have died.

Also Sunday, Syrian security forces set up barricades and carried out raids, according to opposition sources.

Eleven people were killed, said the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria -- eight in Homs, two in Idlib and one in Zabadani, a Damascus suburb.

Security and military forces were conducting raids and arresting people, apparently at random, in the suburbs of Damascus -- where heavy gunfire was heard -- and in villages around Homs, according to two opposition groups.

There were also general strikes in the city of Daraa, one of the centers of resistance to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to the LCC and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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The latter group said security forces fired live bullets at thousands of mourners attending the funeral of activist Ziad al-Obeidi in Dair Elzor on Sunday, which turned into a demonstration demanding the overthrow of the regime.

A group allied with the government, meanwhile, named a number of anti-government activists it said were being paid and organized by agents of the United States and Israel.

"America is recruiting these weak-minded people to create sectarian fighting to help Israel and weaken Syria," said Elyas Helyani of the Syrian Human Rights Network.

"We have evidence of all this and will publish it soon to let the entire world know the reality," he told CNN.

CNN cannot independently confirm events in Syria, which restricts international journalists from accessing many parts of the country.

The government says it has been making efforts to respond to citizens' grievances about the country's political system, and blames armed groups for stoking the violence.

Al-Assad announced the formation of a committee Saturday to draft a new constitution within four months, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali and journalist Ian Lee contributed to this report.

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