Arab League plans Syria peace initiative

28th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Arab League announced early Sunday a peace initiative to solve the crisis in Syria as more people were killed by government forces and activists called for prayers for the "martyrs."

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi would head to Damascus bearing "an initiative to solve the crisis" in Syria, a statement said early Sunday after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

It was not clear when Arabi would visit Syria but Russia also announced it was sending a top envoy to the Syrian capital on Monday, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Meanwhile Syrian authorities, in a statement carried by SANA news agency, warned protesters to stay away from demonstrations in the main streets of the capital being urged on Facebook.

"The interior ministry asks citizens not to respond to calls on social networks to take part in demonstrations and gatherings in the principal squares of Damascus, for their own safety," it said.

The Syrian Revolution 2011, a key driver of the protests, meanwhile called for prayers on Sunday "in churches and in mosques for the martyrs of freedom," in a message on its Facebook page. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed since anti-regime protests began in mid-March.

The latest bloodletting claimed two lives in Syria on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

It said a demonstrator was killed and 10 were hurt when club-wielding security forces attacked a group of people leaving prayers at the Rifai mosque in the capital's western quarter of Kafar Susseh. The imam of the mosque, Osama al-Rifai, was among the wounded.

The Local Coordination Committees, which groups activists on the ground, confirmed the death, but said 12 people had been injured.

Separately, the Observatory said one person was killed and five were wounded in Kafar Nabel, in Idlib province of northwest Syria, where late on Saturday "dozens" of people were arrested in raids by security forces.

SANA meanwhile reported that a traffic policeman was killed Saturday in the flashpoint central city of Homs by "gunmen."

Demonstrations were also reported Saturday in the northern Damascus quarter of Roukn Edinne and in Zabadani, 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of the capital, the Observatory said.

On Friday, the last during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, security forces killed at least seven people as they fired on protesters rallying in their tens of thousands across Syria and vowing to bring down the regime.

The unrelenting violence and bloodshed prompted Arab League foreign ministers to meet late Saturday on Syria.

Arabi will head to Damascus bearing "an initiative to solve the crisis" in Syria, a statement said early Sunday at the end of the meeting.

The ministers "asked the secretary-general of the Arab League to carry out an urgent mission to Damascus and transmit the Arab initiative to resolve the crisis to the Syrian leadership," the statement said.

The ministers also called to end the bloodshed in Syria "before it is too late" and for "respecting the right of the Syrian people to live in security and respecting their legitimate aspirations for political and social reforms."

Russia also planned an initiative.

"A very important envoy from Moscow" will visit Damascus on Monday, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass.

Russia is staunchly opposed to bids by US and European powers to push for a UN Security Council resolution targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has offered a counter-resolution.

The Russian text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, urges Syria to expedite reforms.

Meanwhile Iran has urged Assad's government to listen to the people's demands. "The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.


© 2011 AFP

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