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Arab League calls for Syria's Assad to go

posted 23 Jul 2012, 03:06 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 23 Jul 2012, 03:06 ]

Arab League foreign ministers call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, offering him and his family a safe exit in an effort to halt the bloodshed.

DOHA, QATAR , JULY 22, 2012  (REUTERS) The Arab League called on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to quit on Sunday (July 22) and appealed to the Syrian opposition to unite and form a transitional government.

The emergency summit in the Qatari capital, Doha took place as violence across Syria intensified.

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, who is chairman of the Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria, said he regretted that all Arab and international initiatives toward ensuring a peaceful transfer of authority in Syria had failed, and called on the Syrian opposition to put aside their differences and work together.

"The Syrian opposition must unite internally and abroad to form a transitional government but this doesn't mean it will last forever. They (Syrians) have done their best and sacrificed a lot to reach independent elections and constitution, one voted by the Syrian people. They must join efforts for the next period."

At a press conference following the meeting, Kuwait's Foreign Minister condemned escalating violence against civilians in Syria and warned that perpetrators of possible war crimes would be tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"We strongly condemn killings and violence committed by the Syrian security forces and their militias particularly the last massacre in Treimsa, which is a crime against humanity and we ask to take the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court," said Sabah Khaled al Sabah.

Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Al Arabi pledged safe passage for Assad and his family if he stepped down quickly - something he has shown no inclination to do.

"The Arab league pledges to provide him (Al Assad) and his family with safe exit to stop the bloodshed in Syria. The faster we act the better," al Arabi said.

Some 18,000 people have been killed in the 16-month-old revolt, including more than 1,200 during the last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, making it the bloodiest week in the uprising.