Halt `bloody repression`, Arabs tell Syria
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 13:16
Rabat: The Arab world called for urgent action to protect Syrian civilians from an eight-month protest crackdown, giving President Bashar al-Assad three days to halt the "bloody repression."

That came as a raid by army defectors on a military base highlighted the scale of the challenge to Assad at home, prompting the United States to warn that violence by the opposition is playing into his regime's hands.

Despite Syrian promises to the contrary, the embassies of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in Damascus were attacked by pro-Assad crowds on Wednesday.

With the foreign ministers in Rabat saying yesterday that their patience had run out, the Arab League gave the Assad regime three days to halt violence or face economic sanctions, Qatar's prime minister said.

The 22-member League is "giving the Syrian government three days to stop the bloody repression" of its civilian population, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told a news conference after a meeting of member states in Rabat.

"But if Damascus does not agree to cooperate with the League, sanctions will be adopted against Syria," he said, adding that the Arab states had "almost reached the end of the line" with Damascus.

"I don't want to speak about last chances so (the regime) doesn't think it is being given an ultimatum but we are almost at the end of the line," he said.

Syria was suspended by the League at the weekend, and refused to turn up at the meeting, which was also attended by Turkey, its northern neighbour.

In a statement after what was labelled the Turkish-Arab cooperation forum, ministers declared they were "against all foreign intervention" but said it was time for urgent measures.

"The forum declares that it is necessary to stop the bloodshed and to spare Syrian citizens from new acts of violence and killing, and demands that urgent measures are taken to ensure the protection of civilians," a statement said.

"Ministers also stressed the importance of Syria's stability and unity and the need to find a resolution to the crisis without any foreign intervention," it added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said it was "not surprising" that the opposition is resorting to violence.


First Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 09:34

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