EU Backs Arab League in Call for Syria Peace-Keepers
The European Union on Monday backed an Arab League call for a UN peacekeeping mission in Syria and urged the UN Security Council to act in order to stop the violence there.
"We welcome these bold decisions and the strong and clear commitment and leadership that the Arab League is taking to resolve the crisis in Syria," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
"The EU's first goal is an immediate cessation of killings and therefore we are very supportive of any initiative that can help achieve this objective, including a stronger Arab presence on the ground in cooperation with the UN," he said.
Russia, however, said the proposal needed the agreement of the Syrian government.
"A peacekeeping mission should first have a peace to keep — a cease-fire needs to be reached," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow.
However, Syrian officials have rejected calls for a ceasefire saying they are fighting a "terrorist insurgency."
Lebanese Socialist Party leader MP Walid Junblatt said Monday that Syrian intelligence officials orchestrated the call to al-Qaeda to support the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Jumblatt said the purpose of the scheme was to try to tarnish the image of the opposition movement and justify Assad's ongoing bloody crackdown on protesters.
Lebanese allies of Assad will likely employ the development to maintain their claims that al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Bekaa town of Arsal, Junblatt also predicted.
He did not specifically name Hizbullah, but his reference to Assad's allies was widely understood to be a reference to the Shiite terror group.
A few months ago, Defence Minister Fayez Gosn, a member of the Hizbullah dominated Beirut government, stated that "terrorist organizations" had infiltrated Bakaa and later entered Syria.
Days after Gosn's declaration, which coincided with the Arab League observer mission to Syria, a twin bombing erupted in Damascus, which the Syrian regime blamed on Al Qaeda.
Last week, another twin bombing attack in Allepo killed 27 and wounded at least 175 others near a military installation.
Syrian officials blamed al-Qaeda, which is widely known to use carefully coordinated twin-bombings in their global terror campaign.
In addition to the ongoing protest movement calling for Assad's ouster, his regime now faces a growing armed insurgency by the Syrian Free Army.
Comprised of some 20,000 army defectors armed as light infantry, the SFA has mounted numerous deadly attacks on forces loyal to Assad.
However, the SFA has not carried out bombings to date, and may not possess the technical sophistication to conduct such attacks.
SFA tactics have thus far been restricted to hit-and-run rains and ambushes on security forces. The group has also taken pains not to strike civilian targets.
Nonetheless, Assad's regime has accused the SFA of being in league with Al-Qaeda and used attacks like the one in Allepo to justify its ongoing crackdown, which has claimed between 5,000 and 7,000 civilian lives.
Over the past two weeks Syrian forces have openly shelled the central city of Homs, which has been a focal point of protests during the nearly year-long uprising.
At least 100 have been killed in Homs since the shelling began. Access into the city is virtually impossible due to reports of checkpoints and machine gun positions at every corner.
"Al Assad is purposely not using aircraft because he believes it will be a tipping point for the West to impose a no-fly zone, as in the case of Libya," a Free Syrian Army leader told Gulf News.