Last Updated: Wed Nov 02, 2011 07:33 am (KSA) 04:33 am (GMT)

Syria says agreement reached to end violence, Arab League says awaits response

Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets of Marrat Harma, near Adlb. (Reuters)
Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets of Marrat Harma, near Adlb. (Reuters)

An Arab League ministerial committee charged with seeking an end to the deadly crackdown in Syria has reached an agreement with the authorities in Damascus and the details of the deal will be revealed in Cairo on Wednesday, the Syrian state TV reported Tuesday.

“Syria and the Arab League are in agreement over the final paper concerning the situation in Syria and the official announcement will be made at Arab League headquarters tomorrow,” the state TV reported.

Later, Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Helli told Al Arabiya no response had yet been received.

“The secretary general of the Arab League has not yet received Syria's official response to the document submitted by the ministerial committee” to end the violence, Ben Helli said.

“As far as I know the Syrian delegation will give an official reply tomorrow during the (extraordinary) meeting,” which the Arab League is to hold to discuss the violence in Syria, Ben Helli said.

Arab League ministers met Syrian officials in Qatar on Sunday to seek a way to end bloodshed in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad has staged a military crackdown to crush seven months of protests against his rule.

The Arab League on Monday revealed its roadmap to end violence in Syria, as NATO ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone over the country.

The roadmap calls for tanks to be withdrawn from Syrian streets and for talks between the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad and its opponents, League chief Nabil al-Arabi told AFP in the Qatari capital.

“The Arab proposal to Syria calls for withdrawing tanks and all military vehicles to bring an immediate end to the violence and give assurances to the Syrian street,” said Arabi.

The peace plan also calls for dialogue to take place in Cairo between Syrian regime officials and opposition figures, he added, before leaving Doha without indicating if a response had been received from Assad.

The Syrian delegation also left Doha later without making any statements.

As many as 13 people have been killed on Monday as security forces fired at protesters across the country, Al Arabiya reported citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “Around nine deaths were reported in the protest hub city of Homs,” activists said.

New constitution

Haitham al-Maleh, chairman of the Syria Salvation Conference. (File)
Haitham al-Maleh, chairman of the Syria Salvation Conference. (File)

A Syrian opposition figure told Al Arabiya on Monday that killing was running in the blood of the Syrian regime and all the country’s laws give legitimacy to the crimes committed there.

“Damascus authorities have no right to create a new constitution or to amend the current constitution. The regime should step down, giving way for a peaceful transfer of power through elections,” Haitham al-Maleh, chairman of the Syria Salvation Conference.

Maleh’s remarks to Al Arabiya came as a national committee began work Monday “to draft a new constitution for Syria” in Damascus.

A new constitution was one of the key demands of the Syrian opposition at the start of the anti-government protests in March. Now they are demanding Assad's ouster.

No fly-zone over Syria

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, meanwhile, ruled out the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, in remarks made to AFP en route to Libya, where the alliance conducted an air war that helped to oust dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

“It’s totally ruled out. We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria,” Rasmussen said.

“We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria,” he insisted, saying the conditions there were different to those in Libya, where the coalition had a “clear U.N. mandate.”

Repeating previous warnings, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said Assad risked forcing an international intervention if he allows the violence to continue.

“The entire region is at risk of a massive storm,” Sheikh Hamad told reporters after Sunday’s three-hour meeting.

Assad must take “concrete steps,” he said, to end the unrest that according to the United Nations has claimed more than 3,000 Syrian lives since March.

Sunday’s Arab ministerial meeting “agreed on a serious proposal to stop the killing and all forms of violence in Syria,” said Sheikh Hamad.

A follow-up meeting will be held Wednesday in Cairo, “whether or not there is an agreement,” he added.

Assasd’s warnings

Assad warned in a newspaper interview that any Western intervention in Syria would cause an “earthquake” across the Middle East.

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region,” Syria’s embattled president told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Assad Monday dismissing the Syrian opposition as unrepresentative elements who did not deserve his time.

“I wouldn’t waste my time talking about them,” he said. “I don’t know them. It’s better to investigate whether they really represent Syrians.”

The Doha talks came as Syrian activists put mounting pressure on the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership of the 22-member bloc and organized protests across Syria on Sunday calling for the League to “freeze the membership” of Syria and as the death toll in Syria rose.

Meanwhile, dozens of students demonstrated at the University of Qalamun in the Damascus region demanding the fall of the Baath party regime.

“Bashar go away, there shall not be a dialogue,” they chanted according to a video posted on You Tube website.

Almost 100 people were killed in Syria on Friday and Saturday, the two bloodiest days yet of the uprising, among them 30 Syrian security agents and dozens of civilians, according to Observatory.

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