Arab League to Syria: Allow Observers by Friday
The Arab League has given Syria a Friday deadline to sign an Arab deal allowing monitors into the country, or incur sanctions over its crackdown on protests, Reuters is reporting.
According to the report, the sanctions would include halting flights, curbing trade and stopping deals with the central bank.
Arab foreign ministers warned President Bashar Assad’s government that unless Syria agreed to let the monitors in to assess progress of an Arab League plan to end eight months of bloodshed, officials would consider imposing sanctions on Saturday.
“In the case that Syria does not sign the protocol ... or that it later violates the commitments that it entails, and does not stop the killing or does not release the detainees ... (Arab League officials) will meet on Saturday to consider sanctions on Syria,” the Arab ministers said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
On November 2, Syria agreed to withdraw troops from urban centers, release political prisoners, start a dialogue with the opposition and allow monitors and international media into the country.
Since then, however, hundreds of people, including civilians, security forces and army deserters, have been killed. Syria has yet to allow the observers to enter the country, though last week it said it agreed “in principle” to do so.
The violence continued on Thursday as well, with the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights telling Reuters at least 47 people were killed, including 16 soldiers and 17 army deserters, mostly around Homs and near the town of Rastan to the north.
Meanwhile, reports on Thursday said that Arab nations plan a “no-fly zone” with U.S. logistical backing over Syria, similar to what was done in Libya.
RT News reported that Turkish warplanes are reportedly preparing to implement the plan as soon as the Arab League gives the go-ahead. A decree calling for the protection of Syrian civilians is expected to be issued shortly, the report said.
Turkey, once an ally of Syria, has repeatedly criticized Assad for his crackdown on protesters. Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Assad that his days as a leader were numbered.
“You can remain in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point. The day will come when you’ll also leave,” Erdogan said.
Assad has remained unfazed by the warnings he has received, and has repeatedly threatened that an international operation in Syria would create an “earthquake” across the Middle East.