Arab League suspends Syria, calls for sanctions

A statement, read by Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, said the League decided “to suspend Syrian delegations’ activities in Arab League meetings” if it continued to stall the Arab plan and to implement “economic and political sanctions against the Syrian government.”

It also called for the withdrawal of Arab ambassadors from Damascus, but left the decision to each Arab state. Sheikh Hamad said at a press conference the decision would take effect on November 16.

The statement warned that Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi would contact international organisations concerned with human rights, “including the United Nations,” if the bloodshed continued.

It called for a meeting in Cairo with Syrian opposition groups in three days to “agree a unified vision for the coming transitional period in Syria.”

A week of deadly violence in city of Homs had overshadowed the meeting, in which Arab ministers appeared divided on what measure to take but eventually voted by majority on the final statement.

Assad’s regime agreed on November 2 to an Arab roadmap which called for the release of detainees, the withdrawal of the army from urban areas and free movement for observers and the media, as well as negotiations with the opposition.

Instead, human rights groups say, the regime has intensified its crackdown on dissent, especially in flashpoint Homs, killing at least 125 people in the city since signing onto the League’s deal.

“Homs is a microcosm of the Syrian government’s brutality,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, which accused the regime of crimes against humanity based on its systematic abuses against civilians.

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