Arab League urges Syria to withdraw tanks from streets

A proposed Arab League plan to end months of bloodshed in Syria includes a demand to remove tanks from the streets, the head of the pan-Arab group Nabil al-Arabi said on Monday.

“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,” Arabi told AFP in the Qatari capital Doha.

The Arab League was on Monday awaiting a response from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to its plan which, Arabi said, also calls for a dialogue to take place in Cairo between Syrian regime officials and opposition figures.

Arabi’s statements came after an overnight meeting Sunday between a group of Arab foreign ministers and their Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Doha that was convened to address fears that unchecked Syrian bloodshed could further inflame the Arab world.

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

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

“What is required of Syria … are concrete steps that could avoid what happened to other countries,” he said, in an apparent reference to Nato’s military intervention in the popular uprising against Libya’s slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

At an emergency session in Cairo on October 16, the 22-member League called for “national dialogue” between the government and opposition by the end of October to help stop the violence and avoid “foreign intervention” in Syria. — AFP

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