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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More