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Syriaâ€™s opposition criticizes Arab League; Turkey urges SNC to use â€˜peaceful meansâ€™
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 496 days ago | Monday, 9th January , 2012 , 19:17 [pm] | Azerbaijan
|.|| Syrian opposition activists criticized the Arab Leagueâ€™s failure to take a firmer line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as violent crackdown against protesters resumed across the country, Al Arabiya reported on Monday.
Turkey, meanwhile, called on the Syrian opposition to continue its resistance against President Assadâ€™s regime through â€œpeaceful means,â€ a foreign ministry spokesman said
Syrian opposition activists criticized the Arab Leagueâ€™s failure to take a firmer line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as violent crackdown against protesters resumed across the country, Al Arabiya reported on Monday.
Turkey, meanwhile, called on the Syrian opposition to continue its resistance against President Assadâ€™s regime through â€œpeaceful means,â€ a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.
â€œThe Syrian opposition demands democracy and we told them during a meeting yesterday (Sunday) that this should be done through peaceful means,â€ the spokesman told AFP, referring to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutogluâ€™s talks in Istanbul with the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC).
Davutogluâ€™s meeting with a 10-member delegation led by Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National Council, is the third after his contacts with the group on Oct. 13 and Nov. 17, said the spokesman. The Syrian National Council has an office in Istanbul, he noted.
One person was reported to have been killed by the fire of Syrian security forces in Hama early Monday, according to activists. As many as 20 people were killed on Sunday, Al Arabiya reported citing activists at the Local Coordination Committees (LCC).
The Arab League has urged the Syrian government to end its violence against protesters and allow League monitors in the country to work more freely, but stopped short of asking the U.N. to help.
The arrival last month of the monitors in Syria to judge whether the government was honoring a pledge to end a crackdown on a popular revolt has not ended the violence, in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed.
After a progress meeting in Cairo on Sunday, the Arab League group on Syria said the government had only partly implemented a promise to stop the crackdown, free those jailed during the crisis and withdraw its troops from cities.
In its closing communiquÃ©, the League said it would increase the number of monitors from the present 165 and give them more resources, ignoring calls to end what pro-democracy campaigners say is a toothless mission that buys more time for Syrian President Assad to suppress opponents, according to Reuters.
The Arab League communiquÃ© called on the Syrian opposition to present its political vision for the countryâ€™s future, and asked the Leagueâ€™s secretary general to convene a Syrian opposition meeting.
Opposition rejects Arab League communique
The LCC stressed its complete rejection to the Arab League communiquÃ© and said in a statement that it puts the killer and the victim on the same line, according to Al Arabiya.
The statement called on the Arab League to meet its responsibility towards the Syrian people through the following steps:
-Immediately announcing that the Arab observers have failed in their mission in Syria.
-Referring the Syrian file to the U.N. Security Council, paving the way for imposing a no-fly zone and establishing a safe corridor for protecting the military defector.
-The Arab League should release all evidence proving the presence of armed groups and terrorists among the protesters.
-The Arab League would be held accountable if the Syrian revolution is changed from its peaceful nature to an armed one.
-Syria should be annou7nced a disaster-zone and thus campaigns to deliver relief and aid should be launched at once.
Some Syrian opposition groups hope a failure of the mission might open the way to foreign military intervention like that which helped topple Libyaâ€™s Qaddafi last year.
But Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby said that while the Syrian opposition had asked for the case to be referred to the U.N. Security Council, there was no international appetite for military intervention in Syria.
Crackdown resumes in presence of Arab observers
Arab League officials said the continuation of the mission, due to make a full report on Jan. 19, depended on the Syrian governmentâ€™s commitment to ending violence and honoring its promises. League foreign ministers will discuss the findings on Jan. 19-20.
â€œIf the … report comes out saying the violence has not stopped, the Arab League will have a responsibility to act on that … We have to be clear and honest with the Syrian people,â€ Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told a news conference after the meeting.
He did not say what the Arab League might do, but Assadâ€™s failure to abide by the peace plan resulted in Syriaâ€™s suspension from the 22-member regional body in November.
The Arab plan also called for Assadâ€™s government to permit peaceful protests, start dialogue with political opponents and allow foreign media to travel freely to the country. Syria agreed, but the pledge remains unfulfilled.
Qatar, which chairs the group and has been critical of the missionâ€™s performance, had proposed inviting U.N. technicians and human rights experts to help Arab monitors assess whether Syria was honoring its pledges.
â€œWe have not yet agreed to send individuals,â€ Sheikh Hamad said. Asked if this could happen in the future, he said: â€œit depends on how events develop.â€
About 50 protesters gathered outside the Cairo hotel where the meeting was held, singing: â€œThe people want the president deadâ€ and â€œDown, down with Basharâ€. Some waved posters showing Assad as a vampire sucking the Syrian peopleâ€™s blood.
Meanwhile, Syrian security forces and pro-regime militias shot and killed 20 civilians in different parts of the country on Sunday, including 10 in the central flashpoint province of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
And fighting between the Syrian army and deserters in the southern Deraa province took the lives of 11 soldiers, according to the Observatory.
Another 20 soldiers were wounded in the fighting in the village of Basr al-Harir in Deraa province, south of Damascus, while nine soldiers defected to join the rebel troops, the group added.
The Britain-based watchdog also reported heavy machinegun exchanges between the army and deserters in the Deraa town of Dael. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Cradle of the anti-Assad protests that began in March, Deraa has been one of the provinces hardest hit by the crackdown.
On Saturday, Syria held funerals for 26 victims of a suicide bombing in Damascus, promising an â€œiron fistâ€ response.
The opposition pointed the finger for Fridayâ€™s bomb at the regime itself, as it did after similar attacks in Damascus on Dec. 23 killed 44 people.
The Assad regime has consistently asserted that the unrest sweeping the country is the work of armed rebels, not largely peaceful demonstrators as maintained by Western governments and human rights watchdogs.
After the Damascus bombing, the United States condemned it and again called for Assad to step down, while U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said â€œall violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately,â€ according to AFP
The Syrian National Council, an opposition umbrella group which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, said the bombing â€œclearly bears the regime’s fingerprints.â€
It said the U.N. Security Council had to address the bloodshed, which the world body estimated in December had killed more than 5,000 people since March.
The SNC said â€œa joint effort between the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council represents a first step toward the urgent and necessary measures to assure the protection of civilians, and to ensure that the regime does not commit additional bombings and killings.â€
So far veto-wielding Security Council permanent members Beijing and Moscow have blocked efforts by Western governments to secure U.N. action against Damascus.
On Sunday, a large Russian naval flotilla led by an aircraft carrier was docked in the Syrian port of Tartus in what state media hailed as a show of solidarity by its Cold War ally.alarabiya, Voice of a Nation