Arab League prepares sanctions on Syria as 11 killed
Arab economy ministers gathered in Cairo Saturday to discuss sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, after it ignored a deadline to implement a peace plan in Syria, where activists said 11 more people were killed.
The sanctions would include the suspension of all flights from Arab countries to Syria, as well as freezing government assets and dealings with Syria's central bank, a Beirut-based Arab diplomat told dpa.
The proposed sanctions would be discussed by Arab League foreign ministers on Sunday, at a Cairo meeting to discuss the unrest in Syria which has left over 3,500 people dead. The meeting will also be attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The Arab League had set Friday as a deadline for Damascus to endorse a plan to allow Arab monitors into the country, pull the Syrian army from cities and towns and open dialogue with the opposition.
Syria ignored the Friday deadline, the second set by the regional body this month.
Arab media quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, whose country has close economic ties with Syria, as saying it was "not possible" to impose such sanctions.
Lebanon has already made clear that it will not vote for any economic sanctions on its neighbour.
Syria depends on its Arab neighbours for half of its exports and a quarter of its imports.
The state-run Syrian news agency SANA said the move by the pan-Arab bloc was unprecedented.
"The Syrian people reject the Arab League for being a tool of foreign interference," added SANA.
The 22-country organization suspended Syria's membership this month after al-Assad's regime ignored demands to end an 8-month crackdown on protests demanding he step down.
Activists in Beirut said 11 civilians, including three children, were killed Saturday by security forces across Syria.
Eight were killed when government forces stormed the town of Deir Az-Zour near the border with Turkey, they said.
Another three civilians were killed when security forces opened fire in the flashpoint city of Homs.
SANA reported that 22 soldiers and security personnel were killed in clashes with "armed terrorist groups."
Reports from Syria cannot be independently verified because foreign journalists and human rights groups have been barred from the country.