Former Arab League chief urges review of Qatari proposal to end Syria bloodshed

The Arab League should consider sending troops to Syria as proposed by Qatar’s emir, Amr Mussa, the bloc’s former secretary general, said on Sunday. (File photo)

The Arab League should consider sending troops to Syria as proposed by Qatar’s emir, Amr Mussa, the bloc’s former secretary general, said on Sunday.

“This is a very important proposal,” Mussa said in Beirut on the sidelines of a U.N.-organized conference on democracy in the Arab world.

“The Arab League should begin to study this possibility and begin consultations on this issue,” said Mussa, who is now a candidate for Egypt’s presidency.

In an interview to be aired on U.S. television, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said he favors sending Arab troops to Syria to stop a bloody crackdown on 10 months of democracy protests.

Sheikh Hamad is the first Arab leader to publicly call for Arab troops to be deployed in Syria, where the U.N. estimates more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown since mid-March last year.

Syria, meanwhile, says 2,000 members of the government forces have been killed by “armed terrorists.”

The comments by the emir, whose wealthy nation once enjoyed cordial ties with Damascus, come with the Arab League set to review the work of its Syria monitoring mission later this month, amid increasing concern about its failure to end the violence.

Ki-moon tells Assad to stop murdering

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday to halt violence against a 10-month anti-government uprising.

“Today, I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” Ban told a conference in Lebanon on political reform.

Ban added that the “old order” of dynasties and one-man rule in the Arab world was coming to an end.

“From the very beginning of the ... revolutions, from Tunisia through Egypt and beyond, I called on leaders to listen to their people,” Ban said. “Some did, and benefited. Others did not, and today they are reaping the whirlwind.”

On reform in the region, Ban said the United Nations was supporting change in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

“We are firmly committed to help Arab countries through this transition, by every means,” he said.

Also on Sunday, Assad granted a general amnesty for crimes committed since the outbreak of protest last year against his rule, the state news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

It said the amnesty would cover “crimes committed in the context of the events that occurred from March 15, 2011, until January 15, 2012,” AFP news agency reported. It gave no further details.

Roadside blast kills six

A roadside blast in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province killed six workers and injured 16 on Sunday, SANA reported, blaming the attack on an “armed terrorist group.”

“Six workers were killed and 16 others injured by a blast set off by an armed terrorist group on a road in Idlib, which exploded as a minibus passed by,” SANA reported.

The attack happened on the side of the road linking Ariha and al-Mastuma in Idlib, near the Turkish border, according to SANA.

The agency reported that security services dismantled two other explosive devices on a road in Jabal al-Zawai, also in Idlib.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement that five people were killed in the roadside blast near Ariha, but made no comment as to the identity of the attackers.

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