Arab League Chief To Hold U.N. Talks On Syria, Official Says

The Arab League's secretary-general and Qatar's prime minister will travel to New York for talks on Syria with the United Nations, an Arab League official said Thursday.

Arab League Chief To Hold U.N. Talks On Syria, Official Says

The Arab League's secretary-general and Qatar's prime minister will travel to New York for talks on Syria with the United Nations, an Arab League official said Thursday.

A meeting with the U.N. Security Council will be held Monday, said the official, who cannot be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

U.N. diplomats hope the talks with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani may be the catalyst to get a Security Council resolution passed on Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faces growing international pressure over his government's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The violence continued Thursday, with at least 50 people killed across the country, including seven military defectors, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists operating inside Syria.

.A draft U.N. resolution on Syria obtained by CNN this week calls on "all states" to take steps similar to those the Arab League undertook in November when it imposed sanctions on the Syrian authorities.

The 22-member Arab League has called on al-Assad's regime to stop violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove tanks and weapons from cities and allow outsiders -- including the international news media -- to travel freely in Syria.

On Wednesday, Syria's government agreed to a one-month extension of the Arab League monitors' mission there.

The league is working on a proposal for al-Assad to transfer power to his vice president after the formation of a national unity government. The plan calls for the government to start talks with the opposition within two weeks and for the formation of a new government within two months. A new constitutional council would follow, as would a plan for parliamentary and presidential elections.

However, six nations from the Gulf Cooperation Council withdrew their observers from the monitoring mission this week, citing the continuing bloodshed and the government's "lack of commitment" to the Arab League proposal.

The body is also calling for the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China -- and other council members to ratchet up pressure on the regime.

It wants the Security Council to support the Arab League's Syrian initiative by passing a resolution.

Russia, a Syrian ally, has been seen as an obstacle in developing a tough U.N. resolution toward al-Assad's regime because it has veto power as a permanent council member.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he was "deeply concerned" by the killing a day earlier of Abd-al-Razzaq Jbeiro, the Red Crescent secretary-general for Syria and the head of its operations in Idlib province.

Ban "condemns the attack that killed (the Red Crescent official), which targeted a vehicle clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem," a statement from his office said.

"He calls on the Syrian government to investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. The secretary-general reminds all of their obligation to respect and protect humanitarian workers as they perform their duties and impartially serve all those who are in need."

Elsewhere, a large group of Syrian security forces raided the suburb of Douma, in Damascus province, early Thursday, days after loyalist forces pulled out after heavy clashes with defectors, the observatory said.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that mass pro-government rallies were taking place Thursday in Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Latakia.

According to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, hundreds of thousands of Syrians flocked to the capital to join demonstrations in support of al-Assad's government.

The demonstrators took to the streets "in rejection of the recent decisions by Arab League Council which are but flagrant violation of the Syrian independence and sovereignty," the news agency reported.

It said the rallies were "an embodiment of the Syrians' national unity and cohesion, are considered a sharp cry and strong condemnation of the armed terrorist groups' attacks against their security, stability and unity."

The Syrian government blames the ongoing violence in the country on terrorist groups and says security forces are only trying to protect civilians.

CNN cannot independently confirm events because the Syrian government restricts access of international media to the country.

The uprising against the regime and the resulting government crackdown have engulfed the country for more than 10 months.

The United Nations last month estimated that more than 5,000 people have died since March. The Local Coordination Committees said Tuesday more than 6,600 deaths have been documented since the unrest began. Avaaz, a global political activist group, said the death toll has exceeded 7,000.