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24 people killed during clashes in Syria, rights group says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:54 PM EST, Sat November 19, 2011
A Syrian woman living in Turkey protests against the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.
A Syrian woman living in Turkey protests against the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: President Bashar al-Assad has passed the "point of no return," says an Israeli minister
  • 24 people are killed during clashes in Syria, a rights groups says
  • The violence coincides with an Arab League deadline
  • International pressure has been mounting against al-Assad

(CNN) -- At least 24 people were killed in cities across Syria during a government crackdown Saturday against those in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, according to a U.K.-based human rights group.

Gunfire and explosions could be heard in the western Syrian city of Homs, as residents contended with fuel shortages and power outages throughout the day, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

CNN cannot independently confirm accounts from the ground in Syria because the government has not provided access to Western media.

Also Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that al-Assad had passed the "point of no return -- no way that he will resume his authority or legitimacy over his people."

"I think that the world response ... these are real signals that there is acceleration toward the end of this regime," he said, citing the responses of the Arab League and Jordan.

The clashes come the same day as a deadline set by the 22-member Arab League to put forth a peace plan meant to stem violence against protesters which has resulted in months of bloodshed.

Earlier this week, Syria accepted "in principle" the alliance's plan to permit observers into the country to verify whether the regime has taken measures to protect civilians, a senior Arab diplomat said Friday.

Originally, 500 observers were believed to be destined for Syria. But on Friday, Arab Doctors Association Head Ibrahim Zafarani said he received an email from Arab League officials that indicated only 40 names would be submitted.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday afternoon that the proposed number had been reduced to 40.

Last week, the league's 22 nations voted to suspend Syria's membership, but later gave Damascus three days to implement a protocol to allow observers to enter the nation.

International pressure has since been mounting against al-Assad over his regime's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, amid concerns that violence in Syria is escalating.

CNN's Yasmin Amer contributed to this report.

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