Troops and militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad moved into a residential district of Homs overnight Monday after six days of tank bombardment, residents and activists said. "They are now storming houses and arresting people.... The shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) have brought pick-up trucks and are looting buildings," Raed Ahmad, one of the activists, said by telephone from Homs. He said most residents had fled Bab Amro.
Qatar's prime minister has called for Arab states to meet next Saturday to address Syria's failure to implement a deal struck with the Arab League last week to end its offensive. Under the agreement, Syria was supposed to pull its military out of restive cities, set free political prisoners and start talks with the opposition, which seeks Assad's removal and more democratic freedoms, within two weeks. Syria's representative to the Arab League, Youssef Ahmad, said on Syrian state televison that Damascus had "gone a long away" toward implementing the Arab League plan, pointing to the release of around 500 detainees under a conditional amnesty announced last week. About 1,100 political prisoners, including opposition figure Naji Tayyara, went on a hunger strike at the Homs central jail Monday to protest their continued incarceration despite the Arab League deal, activists said.