Arab League Reuters 311.
(photo credit: Reuters/ Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
CAIRO - Arab governments will step up
pressure on Syria's President Bashar Assad at the Arab League
on Saturday with a demand he end the bloody crackdown on
protesters trying to remove him, a delegate to the League said
ahead of the meeting.
The Syrian government has spent five months trying to crush
street unrest using troops and tanks, killing at least 2,200
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"There has been an agreement in talks held between the Arab
states on ... pressuring the Syrian regime to completely stop
the military operations and withdraw its forces," the delegate
to the 22-member Arab League's council told Reuters.
"A clear message (will be sent) to the Syrian president that
it has become unacceptable for the Arab states to stay silent on
what is happening in Syria, especially following the Security
Council's move to impose sanctions on Syrian officials and the
condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Council," said
the delegate, who asked not to be named.
He said Arab foreign ministers would also discuss a proposal
to send a ministerial delegation to Damascus to "directly inform
the Syrian leader of the Arab position".
International condemnation of the repression escalated this
month after Assad sent the army into several cities including
Hama, Deir al-Zor and Latakia. Some Arab states have broken
months of silence to call for an end to the violence.
It will be the first official Arab League meeting on Syria
since the start of the uprising. The meeting was due to begin at
9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT)
The delegate said it was unlikely the Cairo-based body would
suspend Syria's membership, as it did with Libya after the start
of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in February.
In March, the League backed a UN Security Council
resolution allowing NATO warplanes to patrol Libyan airspace and
bomb Gaddafi's forces to protect civilians. Its approval was
seen as necessary for that operation to go ahead.
Many Arab commentators have criticized the League for its
timid reaction to the violence in Syria. It spent months only
voicing "concern", suggesting divisions among its members, some
of which are facing their own public protests.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued a rare condemnation of a
powerful Arab neighbor on Aug. 8, demanding an end to the
bloodshed and recalling his ambassador from Damascus.
Bahrain and Kuwait recalled their ambassadors hours after
the Saudi king's decision and the Sunni Islam's most venerable
institution of learning, al-Azhar in Cairo, called the Syrian
assault on protesters an unacceptable "human tragedy."