Arabs gave three days to Syria to hang on killing of protesters

RABAT: Arab leaders Wednesday gave Syrian’s President Bashar al-Assad three days to halt his “bloody repression” of anti-regime protests the UN says has killed more than 3,500 people, or risk sanctions. It came as a raid by army defectors on a military base highlighted the scale of the challenge to Assad at home but prompted the United States to warn that violence by the opposition played into his regime’s hands. Rabat withdrew its envoy to Damascus after the embassies of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates were attacked by pro-Assad crowds eight months into a pro-democracy uprising. With its foreign ministers meeting in Rabat saying their patience was running out, the 22-members Arab League gave Assad’s regime “three days to stop the bloody repression”, Qatar’s prime minister said. “But if Damascus does not agree to cooperate with the League, sanctions will be adopted against Syria,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told a news conference. Arab states had “almost reached the end of the line” with Damascus, he added. “The Syrian government must agree to Arab League decisions and stop the bloodbath in Syria,” he said. “We do not interfere in Syria’s internal affairs… but the bloodbath must be stopped.” The League decided at the weekend to suspend Syria, which snubbed Wednesday’s meeting also attended by Turkey, its northern neighbour. In a statement issued after a Turkish-Arab cooperation forum, ministers declared they were “against all foreign intervention” but said it was time for urgent measures.


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