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Muslim Body Wants World Action on Syria

Published: 10/02/2012 01:21:17 AM GMT
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DAMASCUS - The world's largest Islamic body urged the international community on Monday, January 30, to take necessary measures to stop bloodshed in (more)

DAMASCUS - The world's largest Islamic body urged the international community on Monday, January 30, to take "necessary measures" to stop bloodshed in Syria, as street battles raged on the doorstep of the capital Damascus between President Bashar al-Assad's troops and rebel fighters.

"I renew my calls to the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to take up its responsibilities in protecting civilians and taking all measures to end bloodshed in Syria," Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu, the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

The OIC chief slammed the "continuous killing of dozens of innocent civilians every day."

"This is unacceptable and it is impossible to remain silent on it."

He appealed to world countries to find "a solution that would ensure security and stability and prevent foreign intervention" in Syria.

Syria has been hit by popular protests in March, inspired by uprising in the Arab world, for an end to Assad's 11-year rule.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on protestors, according to the United Nations.

Syrian authorities blame foreign-backed armed groups for the violence, saying they have killed 2,000 soldiers and police.

Ihsanoglu's call followed earlier comments by UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday that Assad must end the killings in his country.

"First and foremost, he must stop immediately the bloodshed," Ban told reporters.

"The Syrian leadership should take a decisive action at this time to stop this violence. All the violence must stop."

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby arrived in New York Monday where he will brief representatives of the UN Security Council on the Syrian on Tuesday to seek support for an Arab peace plan to end bloodshed in the country.

He will be joined by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, whose country heads the League's committee charged with overseeing the Syrian crisis.

Street Battles

Meanwhile, street battles raged on Monday on the doorstep of Damascus as Assad's troops tried to consolidate their grip on suburbs taken from opposition fighters.

"Street fighting has been raging since dawn," a Syrian activist told Reuters.

"The sound of gunfire is everywhere."

At least 15 people had been killed as opposition fighters pulled back in Saqba and Kfar Batna, while other activist groups estimated the death toll at several dozen in three days of fighting in the districts.

The escalating bloodshed prompted the Arab League to suspend the work of its monitors on Saturday.

Arab foreign ministers, who have urged Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity, will discuss the crisis on February 5.

Yet, Russia seemed determined on supporting Assad as its Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov Moscow expressed will to hear directly from the Arab League; a move likely to delay any vote.

"It would be logical, considering the complexity of this issue, for Security Council members to be able to study the recommendations and conclusions of the observer mission in detail," the Interfax news agency quoted Gatilov as saying on Monday.

"Only after that would it be possible to count on a substantive discussion of this issue in the Security Council."

The Syrian regime was also supported by Syria's key ally, Iran, saying Assad must be given time to implement reforms.

"They have to have a free election, they have to have the right constitution, they have to allow different political parties to have their activities freely in the country. And this is what he has promised," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

"We think that Syria has to be given the choice of time so that by (that) time they can do the reforms."

Reproduced with permission from