Arab League calls for joint UN-Arab peacekeeping mission in Syria
The Arab League is calling for support of the Syrian opposition in “all possible forms” including diplomatic and financial ones. The league has also decided to scrap its own monitoring team and to call on the UN Security Council to send a joint international peacekeeping force to Syria.
The resolution adopted by the Arab states that the violence against civilians in Syria violates international law and “the perpetrators deserve punishment,” Al-Arabiya reports.
During the Arab League meeting on Sunday, Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal called on the Arab League to halt all forms of diplomatic cooperation with Syria and to implement harsher sanctions on Assad’s regime. Some member states were also reportedly pushing for the Arab League to grant formal recognition to the opposition Syrian National Council.
Meanwhile, Tunisia has offered to host an international "Friends of Syria" meeting on February 24, in an attempt to reach a consensus on the issue. The meeting will include Arab, regional and international states. The Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, and Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, have already confirmed their countries will take part in the conference.
The Arab League observer mission was frozen on January 28 due to the escalation of violence in the country. The chief of the current observer mission, General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, resigned on Sunday. The reasons for his resignation have not yet been announced.
A former UN special envoy to Libya, Abdul-Illah al-Khatib, is expected to be named as the Arab League's new special envoy to Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier stated he is ready for the reinstatement of an international observer mission in the country after negotiations with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. However, it is unknown how Syrian authorities would feel about the idea of a UN peacekeeping mission on the ground.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has denied reports that it presented its own draft resolution on Syria at the UN General Assembly. Earlier reports suggested that a new draft was circulating among the Arab League members. It was believed that it duplicated the previous draft that had been vetoed by Russia and China at the UNSC due to its unbalanced and biased approach to solving the crisis.
The General Assembly is due to discuss the Syrian issue on Monday.
Russia will not be able to block the resolution if the vote takes place, as no country has a veto force at the General Assembly. However, the UNGA resolutions, unlike the UNSC ones, have no legal power.
Funerals as fighting continues
There are continuing reports of violent clashes taking place between Assad’s security forces and rebels in many parts of Syria.
Meanwhile, in the largest Syrian city of Aleppo, activists held a massive funeral procession for the victims of the recent twin blast. Two cars stuffed with explosives exploded near security compounds on Friday, killing 28 people and injuring 235.
A picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows the bodies of thoses killed in the twin Aleppo car bomb blasts on February 10th, during their funeral service (AFP Photo)
So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Syrian government earlier said it suspected Al-Qaeda of being behind the suicide terrorist attacks. The Syrian opposition however accuses President Bashar al-Assad of masterminding the bombings to discredit them.
On Sunday, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, has voiced his support for the Syrian uprising, calling on Muslims to join the opposition in Syria in their drive to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The bombings in the Syrian capital Damascus on December 23 and January 6 are also believe to have been carried out by the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda.