Arab League to discuss suspending Syria, says delegate

After months of silence, Arab governments fear anti-Assad revolt could destabilize region; states demand political reforms, end to bloodshed.

Arab League 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Arab League 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
CAIRO - Arab foreign ministers will discuss whether to suspend Syria from the regional body at a meeting on Sunday, but some states oppose such a move, a permanent delegate to the League said.
"The emergency meeting will consider suspending Syria's membership," the delegate told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. "Some Arab states clearly oppose suspending Syria's membership."
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Syrian President Bashar Assad has intensified a military crackdown to crush protests demanding his resignation. The United Nations says the repression has killed 3,000 people.
Arab governments were silent for months while Assad's troops tried to put down the uprising with tanks and machineguns. But the country is now in danger of descending into a civil war that could destabilize its neighbors.
Thousands of Syrian troops backed by armor opened fire in the resort town of Zabadani on the border with Lebanon on Sunday, a day after heavy fighting in the area between army defectors and loyalist forces, residents and activists said.
Arab states have demanded an end to the bloodshed and called for political reforms but do not agree on how to achieve that and have stopped short of expelling Syria from the Cairo-based regional body.
Gulf states called the emergency meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria and study ways "to stop the bloodshed and machine of violence," the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said last week.
The permanent delegate said the League was calling on Syria's government to set out a timetable for pulling out of Syrian towns and to stop killing civilians.