The Syrian government published a new law this week that mandates the death penalty for anyone distributing weapons for the purpose of committing terrorist acts, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.
Army deserters have taken shelter in Homs and Jabal Zawiyeh, where pro-Assad forces have used air power to strike targets.
However, residents say they have not supplied arms to the men, who are carrying their own light weapons and are no match for the pro-Assad army.
The defectors have formed a Free Syria Army, but so far it has largely been involved in protecting unarmed protesters from the government crackdown.
Residents are facing an acute shortage of fuel, heating oil and medical supplies critical during the bitter winter months.
“The regime is applying collective punishment,” said Mr. Azzawi.
It called for a full withdrawal of security forces, the release of political prisoners, and unfettered access by monitors and international media to all parts of Syria.
In Cairo on Monday, Syria signed the Arab League peace initiative allowing observers into the country. The plan calls on the Assad regime to halt its crackdown, start talks with the opposition, withdraw forces from city streets and allow access to human rights workers and journalists.
“The words of the Assad regime have no credibility when they continue to be followed by outrageous and deplorable actions,” the White House said.
In remarks directed at Russia and China, the White House urged Syria[‘]s “few remaining supporters in the international community” to warn the regime in Damascus of serious consequences if the Arab League peace plan is not fully implemented.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
Great discoveries in the world of restaurants and chefs fulfill the quest for delicious food and cooking.
Paul Rondeau dissects the propaganda, media tricks, and other shenanigans targeting our families, faith, and freedom…and even life itself
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention