Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby urged Damascus on Thursday to immediately end military operations against "defenceless civilians" saying the continued violence was claiming innocent victims.
Arab League observers in Syria, depleted by a pullout of their Gulf Arab colleagues, resumed work on Thursday for the first time in a week during which a bloody struggle between President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents has raged on.
Security forces deployed across the Damascus suburb of Douma, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Douma, a protest hotbed that has recently seen a rise in rebel activity, was rocked by blasts overnight, according to local activists.
In an unusually strong statement, Elaraby said he was "concerned over the continued killing and violence in Syria that has claimed more innocent victims".
"(Elaraby) called for an immediate end to all forms of violence and on the Syrian government to ... stop military and security escalation against defenceless civilians," the statement issued by his office said.
The Arab League, while extending the monitoring mission for another month, called on Assad to step down after 10 months of bloodshed as part of a transition plan for which it is seeking U.N. support.
Elaraby praised the monitors for working "professionally and seriously" despite what described as very difficult circumstances.
Gulf Arab countries have pulled their monitors out of the mission, complaining that Syria had failed to comply with a previous Arab peace plan, but they continue to support the observers financially and logistically.