News / Middle East

Arab League Calls for UN Peacekeepers in Syria

Arab League Calls for UN Peacekeepers in Syria
Arab League Calls for UN Peacekeepers in Syria

The Arab League has agreed to boost support for the Syrian opposition and urge the U.N. Security Council to form a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force to try to end the Syrian government's increasingly deadly crackdown on an 11-month uprising.

Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo adopted a resolution Sunday calling on member states to provide the Syrian opposition with "open channels of communication" and "full political and material support." The 22-member league also agreed to press for a Security Council resolution authorizing an Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force to implement a cease-fire in the Syrian government's conflict with rebels and protesters.

Damascus quickly rejected the resolution. Syrian ambassador to the league Ahmed Youssef said it reflects the "hysteria" of Arab governments who "failed" to achieve a Security Council resolution authorizing "foreign intervention" in Syria. Russia and China vetoed a Western and Arab-backed resolution earlier this month. It would have endorsed an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal urged his Arab League counterparts to take "decisive" action after what he called the failure of previous efforts to stop "massacres" of the Syrian people.

Syrian rights activists say renewed shelling by pro-Assad forces killed at least four civilians in the opposition hub of Homs on Sunday. They say hundreds of people have been killed in Homs since the government began bombarding opposition-dominated districts of the central city February 4.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday said Syrian Red Crescent volunteers reached Homs and distributed food, medical supplies and blankets to thousands of people affected by a humanitarian crisis in the city.

In other developments, Syrian state news agency SANA said 22 security personnel were buried Sunday after being killed in fighting with armed terrorists whom Damascus blames for the uprising. One of those buried was Brigadier General Issa Ahmad al-Kholi, the head of a Damascus military hospital who was assassinated by gunmen near his home on Saturday.

Syrian state television also showed crowds gathering for funerals of some of the 28 people killed in suicide car bombings of two military sites in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday.

SANA also reported that a presidential commission assigned with drafting a new constitution submitted the document to Mr. Assad on Sunday. It said the Syrian president will review the proposed constitution and refer the document to parliament before putting it to a referendum. Syrian opposition activists have long dismissed Mr. Assad's reform pledges as meaningless while he continues suppressing his opponents.

The Arab League resolution adopted Sunday also calls on Syria's disparate opposition groups to unite before a new coalition of nations called the "Friends of Syria" meets in Tunisia on February 24. The United States and its European and Arab allies agreed to form the group in response to Russia and China blocking action by the U.N. Security Council.

Also Sunday, a Sudanese general who led an Arab League observer team in Syria resigned, while Arab foreign ministers agreed to formally end the mission. The regional bloc sent the observers to Syria with the agreement of Damascus in December but pulled them out last month as violence escalated.

In another move, the Arab foreign ministers nominated former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel Elah al-Khatib as a new special envoy for Syria. Al-Khatib was the U.N. troubleshooter for the Libyan crisis last year.

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against what he called Mr. Assad's "pernicious, cancerous regime."  All four states border Syria.  Al-Zawahiri's comments came after the suicide car bombings in Aleppo. No group has claimed responsibility, but such attacks are a hallmark of al-Qaida.

In Rome Sunday, Pope Benedict urged the Syrian government to recognize "the legitimate aspirations" of its people and embark on a national dialogue to end the violent crackdown.

The United Nations said last month that violence linked to the uprising had killed more than 5,400 people. U.N. officials stopped updating the death toll in January, saying it was too difficult to obtain information. Rights groups say hundreds more people have been killed since then.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs