'Arab League move will make Assad more brutal'

Barak tells Army Radio: Suspending Syria from League will not force Assad to halt crackdown; "he's passed point of no return."

By REUTERS
November 13, 2011 17:55
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Barak at IDF officers' graduation

Defense Minister Ehud Barak at IDF officers' graduation 311. (photo credit: Linoy Elihai / Defense Ministry)

 
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Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday warned that sanctions imposed on Syria by the Arab League will not halt Syrian President Bashar Assad's violent crackdown on protesters calling for him to step down.

During and interview with Army Radio, Barak warned that the decision to suspend Syria from the Arab League will make Assad more brutal. "He has passed the point of no return," the defense minister added.

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Meanwhile, Syria is calling for an emergency summit of Arab League heads of state to discuss unrest in the country, state television said on Sunday, a day after it was suspended by the League.

Quoting an official source, the television said the objective of the proposed summit would be to discuss the unrest's "negative repercussions on the Arab situation."

Scenes of violence and chaos followed Saturday's announcement. Security forces shot dead four people who shouted slogans against Assad at a rally organized by the authorities in the city of Hama on Sunday to show popular anger at an Arab League decision to suspend Syria, local activists said.

"Security forces were leading public workers and students into Orontes Square when groups broke away and started shouting 'the people want the fall of the regime'," one of the activists in Hama, 240 km north of Damascus, said.

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"They escaped into the alleyways but were followed, and four were killed," the activist added.

State television said millions of Syrians assembled in public arenas across the country to denounce the Arab League decision, which came in response to a crackdown by Assad's forces on pro-democracy protesters, which the United Nations says has killed 3,500 people.

The television showed crowds carrying Syrian flags and posters of Assad at public squares in Damascus, the eastern city of Raqqa and the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartous.

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