- Arab League - Bashar al-Assad - Syria
Arab League deadline ignored by Syrian regime
A 24 hour deadline for Syria to respond to an Arab League demand to sign a deal allowing monitors into the country passed on Friday with no response from Damascus. The League has extended the deadline until this evening.
REUTERS - A deadline set by the Arab League for Syria to sign a deal allowing monitors into the country expired on Friday without any Syrian response but Arab governments will give Damascus until the end of the day to answer, an Arab source said.
Arab foreign ministers had said in Cairo on Thursday that unless Syria agreed to let the monitors in to assess progress of an Arab League plan to end eight months of internal bloodshed, officials would consider imposing sanctions on Saturday.
"The deadline has already ended, but the Arab League leaves the door open for Syria to reply by the end of the day and if a positive Syrian response comes on Friday, then the Arab League has no objection to agreeing to it," the source said.
Another Arab League official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Syria had sent a letter 'seeking further clarifications'. The deadline had expired at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT). "Syria did not sign," he said.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership two weeks ago. League officials said they would meet again on Saturday to consider sanctions if Damascus did not sign the agreement. Possible sanctions could include suspending flights to Syria, stopping dealings with the central bank, freezing Syrian government bank accounts and halting financial dealings, according to a statement issued at the end of their meeting.
They could also decide to stop commercial trade with the government 'with the exception of strategic commodities so as not to impact the Syrian people', the statement said.
Under the Arab League initiative, Syria agreed to withdraw troops from urban centres, release political prisoners, start a dialogue with the opposition and allow monitors and international media into the country.
Since then hundreds of people, including civilians, security forces and army deserters, have been killed as the unrest - which the United Nations says has claimed at least 3,500 lives since March - continued unabated.