Arab nations have called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to swiftly give up power as his troops launched a fresh assault on rebels in Damascus and the second city Aleppo.
In a joint statement issued early Monday after their meeting in Doha, Arab League foreign ministers called on Assad to “renounce power,” promising that he and his family would be offered “a safe exit.”
“There is agreement on the need for the rapid resignation of President Bashar al-Assad,” Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told journalists after the Arab League meeting ended late on Monday.
Sheikh Hamad also urged Assad to “stop the destruction and the killings by taking a courageous decision” to cede the power he has wielded since 2000.
Meanwhile, the ministers called on the rebel Free Syrian Army and opposition leaders with the Syrian National Council to form a transitional government of national unity along with the “de facto national authority.”
The committee also called for an extraordinary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to work towards creating “security zones” and “humanitarian corridors” in Syria.
The UN Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria as Western powers wrangle with China and Russia over the proper course for dealing with Assad.
Moscow, which has billions of dollars in investments tied to the Syrian regime, and Beijing, a major consumer of Syrian oil, have used their veto-power three times to shield Assad from Western action to date.
Meanwhile, rights groups say some 19,000 people – most of them civilians – have been killed in Assad's bloody crackdown on the 16-month popular uprising turned civil war threatening his 11-year rule.
The Arab League’s ministerial committee on Syria brings together Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman.