BEIRUT: The Arab League has turned down last-minute amendments by Damascus on a deal to allow an observer mission into Syria, diplomats told The Daily Star Friday.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the changes requested by Syria – that human rights activists be excluded from the observer mission and only civilians working for Arab governments take part – were rejected by the regional organization.
Earlier Friday, reports surfaced saying that Syria had agreed “in principle” to allow an observer mission into the country but requested several amendments.
The Arab League formally suspended Damascus this week over its crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising, which the U.N. estimates has killed more than 3,500 people. The group wants to send hundreds of observers to the country to try to help end the bloodshed.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is facing mounting pressure from home and abroad over the country’s crisis, which appears to be spiraling out of control as attacks by army defectors increase and some protesters take up arms to protect themselves. The escalating violence has raised fears of civil war.
“We call on the Syrian opposition to avoid recourse to an armed insurrection,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey. “A civil war would of course be a true catastrophe.”
Asked about the possibility of foreign intervention, Juppe said: “This would have to be within the framework of the U.N. Security Council.” – With AP