Arabs threaten to take Syria to UN over crackdown

Last Updated: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 22:03

Damascus: The Arab League on Saturday threatened
to take Syria to the UN over its deadly crackdown on dissent
but an Iraqi mediator said he had "positive" talks in Syria
aimed at defusing the nine-month crisis.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Falah al-Fayadh said
he was heading to Arab League headquarters in Cairo after
holding "positive" talks with President Bashar al-Assad in a
bid to end the deadlock over a League peace plan.

"I am on my way to Cairo for a meeting with the Arab
League after holding positive talks with President Assad,"
Fayadh said after discussing an Iraqi initiative in
Damascus.

But the Qatari prime minister warned that the Arab
League would take Syria to the UN Security Council if it
persisted in refusing to allow observers into the country to
monitor the protection of civilians.

Arab foreign ministers will meet on Wednesday in Cairo
to discuss taking the Arab peace plan to the UN, said Sheikh
Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani at the end of a meeting in Doha on
the Syria crisis.

"As Russia has gone to the Security Council, a
proposal will be presented in the (Arab ministers`) meeting on
December 21 that the Arab League goes to the Security Council
to present the Arab initiative," Sheikh Hamad said.

The 22-member Arab bloc has been trying to persuade
Syria to receive observers to monitor the situation as part of
a plan to end the bloodshed.

On November 27, the Arab bloc approved a raft of
sanctions against the Syrian authorities to punish their
failure to heed an ultimatum to admit observers.

Earlier this month Syria finally said it would allow
the mission, but set a number of conditions, namely the
lifting of sanctions.

Ahead of Saturday`s meeting in Doha, Arab League
number two Ahmed Ben Helli had sounded hopeful that Damascus
would sign the protocol and allow in observers.

"There are positive signs... I expect the signing will
happen soon," he said. But he quickly added: "It will not
be today."

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000
people have been killed in a government crackdown on
pro-democracy protests which first erupted in the Middle
East`s most autocratic country in mid-March.

On Friday 19 more civilians were killed across Syria,
activists said, amid mass rallies to criticise the Arab
League`s failure to take tougher action.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 22:03
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