Arab League Discusses Suspending Syria

Posted October 16th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Arab League officials say Arab foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Cairo Sunday to discuss whether to suspend Syria from the regional body.

All officials Sunday spoke about the suspension talks on the condition of anonymity. The 22-member Arab League suspended Libya earlier this year after former leader Moammar Gadhafi launched a bloody clamp down on anti-government protesters. The group later reinstated Libya under the North African nation's new leadership.

Gulf Arab states called for Sunday's meeting. Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states already have pulled their ambassadors from Damascus to protest the government's deadly crackdown on opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists say security forces in the east have opened fire on mourners attending the funeral of an activist with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as government forces continued arrests near the capital, Damascus.

The Britain-based observatory said Sunday that government forces in the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour fired live bullets as about 7,000 mourners took to the streets for the funeral of Ziad al-Obeidi. The 42-year-old activist had been in hiding for the two months and was killed Saturday by security forces who had been hunting him.

Activists say government forces also carried out raids against dissent near the capital, Damascus. They say forces in Zabadani, some 50 kilometers from the capital, set up roadblocks and searched door-to-door, arresting at least 25 people.

Rights groups say security forces also arrested 19 people in the Damascus suburb of Dumeir Sunday.

The United Nations says the violence in Syria has killed more than 3,000 people since anti-government protests began earlier this year.

Syrian authorities have blamed much of the violence on gunmen or “terrorist” groups.

On Saturday, President Assad appointed a 29-member committee to draft a new constitution. The move appears to be a step by Mr. Assad to address the growing international condemnation he has faced for the crackdown on dissent.