Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arab League Wants Un Peacekeepers in Syria Calls for Severing Diplomatic Ties with Assad Regime in Bid to End Bloodshed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Arab League Wants Un Peacekeepers in Syria Calls for Severing Diplomatic Ties with Assad Regime in Bid to End Bloodshed

Article excerpt

CAIRO -- The Arab League called Sunday for the U.N. Security Council to create a joint peacekeeping force for Syria and urged Arab states to sever all diplomatic contact with President Bashar Assad's regime.

It was the League's latest effort to bring an end to the violence that has killed more than 5,000 people.

Syria immediately rejected the moves, spelled out in a resolution adopted by League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal conveyed the 22-nation League's deep frustration with Syria, telling delegates that it was no longer appropriate to stand by and watch the bloodshed.

"Until when will we remain spectators?" he said. The bloodshed in Syria "is a disgrace for us as Muslims and Arabs to accept."

Syria's state news agency said the regime rejected the Arab League decisions, which were taken without a Syrian representative present. Syria's ambassador to the Arab League, Ahmed Youssef, was quoted as saying that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were "living in a state of hysteria after their last failure at the U.N. Security Council to call for outside interference in Syria's affairs and to impose sanctions on the Syrian people."

The Arab League has been at the forefront of regional efforts to end 11 months of bloodshed in Syria. The group put forward a plan that Mr. Assad agreed to in December, then sent in monitors to check whether he was complying. When it became clear that the killings were continuing, the League pulled out the observers last month.

"The time has come for a decisive action to stop the bloodshed suffered by the Syrian people since the start of last year," Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told the Arab foreign ministers. "We must move quickly in all directions ... to end or break the ongoing cycle of violence in Syria."

The League called for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution that provides for an immediate cease-fire in Syria, the protection of civilians and overseeing a humanitarian effort for victims of the violence. It demanded that regime forces lift their sieges and pull troops back to their barracks.

It urged Syrian opposition groups to unite ahead of a Feb. …

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