(Updates with Arab League forming committee in fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Syrian security forces carried out raids and made arrests today as Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo to discuss the violence.
Ahead of the emergency Arab League meeting, a group of foreign ministers headed by Qatar’s representative debated ways in which to pressure the regime of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad into ending its deadly crackdown against protesters, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency said.
“No doubt this is one of the most serious crises we face right now,” Nabil El-Arabi, Arab League secretary-general, said during a portion of the meeting broadcast on Egyptian television. “We can’t keep silent toward the violence and the killings in Syria.”
The Arab League formed a committee to look into what it called the “catastrophic and the sad situation in Syria,” the league said in a statement today. The committee’s mission “is to contact the Syrian leadership to stop the violence and to start a dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition,” the statement said. It said the dialogue should start within 15 days.
Protests demanding the ouster of Assad started in March during a wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that has unseated governments in Tunisia and Egypt and sent Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi on the run. Assad has blamed the demonstrations in Syria on foreign-backed extremists.
Fifteen people were killed yesterday across the country, said Mahmoud Merei, Damascus-based head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, in a telephone interview.
Syrian Civilian Deaths
At least 4,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by security forces, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. The United Nations published a lower death toll on Oct. 14 of more than 3,000, including at least 187 children.
Syria’s opposition is trying to follow the path taken by Libya’s rebels, who formed a transitional council that became the main governing authority in the North African country in August after they seized Tripoli, the capital. Syrian activists on Oct. 2 formed a council to coordinate efforts to end Assad’s rule and stop his deadly crackdown.
In Libya, fighters searched neighborhoods in Tripoli for armed supporters of Muammar Qaddafi, after a firefight broke out between his loyalists and opponents in the capital.
Opposition troops combed apartment buildings for Qaddafi fighters and weapons yesterday after a battle on Oct. 14, which marked the first major fighting in the city since the rebels took control in August, the Associated Press reported. Concern over the looting of missiles and weapons has prompted the U.S. State Department to send dozens of contractors to the country to help aid in recovery efforts, the New York Times reported yesterday.
The eight-month conflict interrupted oil production in Libya, which has the largest crude reserves of any African nation. National Oil Corp.’s Chairman Nuri Berruien said yesterday that Libya’s Sharara field, which is operated by Repsol YPF SA, is scheduled to start producing between 80,000 and 100,000 barrels a day of crude before the end of the month.
The North African country is currently producing 400,000 barrels a day of oil and is expected to meet its daily production goal of 500,000 barrels by the end of the month, Berruien said.
Libya’s Arabian Gulf Oil Co. will pump crude at its full capacity of about 425,000 barrels a day by February, after it resumes production at some fields and boosts output at others, Yousef Gherryo, a marketing manager at the company, said in an interview today in Benghazi.
In Yemen, the capital Sana’a was rocked by explosions and gunfire as troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh battled tribal forces.
Yemen has the eighth-largest crude reserves in the Middle East and relies on oil sales for 90 percent of its hard currency earnings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Oil Administration.
--With assistance from Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv, Zaid Sabah and Ola Galal in Cairo, Vivian Salama in Abu Dhabi and Mohammed Hatem in Dubai. Editors: Ann Hughey, Kevin Costelloe
Mariam Fam in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the reporters on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at email@example.com.
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