Syria says US behind ‘bloody events,’ urges Arab League help

[Ongoing artillery duels is hard proof of outside intervention by the introduction of heavy weapons to the Syrian opposition forces, whoever they really are.]

Syria says US behind ‘bloody events,’ urges Arab League help

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

CAIRO: Syria has sent the Arab League a letter asking for support against what it called US involvement in “bloody events” in the country, the 22-member pan-Arab group said in a statement on Monday.

The statement said the letter from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused Washington “of actual involvement in bloody events in Syria” and asked the League to “condemn the involvement and to do what is necessary to end it.”

The statement did not elaborate on the accusations of US involvement in the Syrian bloodshed.

In the letter, Syria, which is under growing pressure to implement an Arab plan to end violence against protesters, sought Arab assistance “to provide the appropriate atmosphere to implement the agreement,” said the statement.

The Arab League on Sunday accused Syria of failing to honour the plan it agreed last week to end violence against protesters, and said Arab foreign ministers would meet on Saturday to discuss their next step.

The meeting, it said, was called because of “the continuation of violence and because the Syrian government did not implement its commitments in the Arab plan to resolve the Syrian crisis.”

The League’s deputy secretary general told AFP on Monday that Syria had sent a letter detailing the steps it took towards carrying out the plan, but he refused to elaborate.

The plan called on President Bashar al-Assad to open talks with his opposition, parts of which on Monday called for international protection of civilians in the central city of Homs, which is besieged by Assad’s troops.

Declaring Homs a “humanitarian disaster area,” the Syrian National Council urged the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to act “to stop the massacre committed by the regime.”

The SNC, which groups the main currents of the opposition, also called in its statement for the evacuation of civilians away from “areas that are under shelling and destruction.”

The group said the regime had “launched a large-scale attack” overnight Sunday to Monday on the districts of Homs and that “indiscriminate slaughter is being committed by the regime’s militias.”

The latest deaths bring to at least 70 the number of people killed since Assad’s government signed on to the Arab League peace plan on Wednesday last week.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said heavy artillery clashes erupted overnight between soldiers and presumed army defectors in Homs leaving “dozens of dead and wounded in both camps.”

“Shooting could be heard in Homs where neighbourhoods came under heavy machinegun fire at dawn,” said the Observatory in a statement, adding “more than 40 explosions were heard.”

The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 people have been killed in Syria in the brutal security crackdown since anti-regime demonstrations erupted in mid-March.

– AFP/de