Several Arab League member countries have proposed suspending Syria’s membership in the organization over violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protests by the country’s government, the Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper said on Tuesday.
Sources in the Arab League told the paper that the proposed measure is intended to demonstrate a protest against the “Syrian army and security forces’ actions aimed at suppressing demonstrations in support of changes and reforms” in the Arab country.
The proposal has faced opposition from countries neighboring Syria, who have expressed concerns that the isolation of Damascus would lead to tensions between local political forces which would further deteriorate the situation in the country and hamper efforts to reestablish peace, the paper said.
The Arab League’s secretary general, Amr Moussa, said on Monday that Arab countries were very concerned over the continuing violence in Syria that has claimed hundreds of lives over the past three months.
He said, however, that there is no consensus among Arab states about measures to be taken in order to put an end to the unrest.
In March, the Arab League suspended Libya’s membership after Col. Muammar Gaddafi sent tanks to fight protesters in the rebellious east. The organization then asked the United Nations Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Gaddafi’s planes from bombing rebels.
Syrian rights organizations have estimated that some 1,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 arrested in Syria since protests demanding the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian rule broke out in the country in mid-March. Foreign journalists are banned from entering the country which makes it difficult to verify the figures.
Syria’s official reports say some 300 security and military officers have also been killed in clashes with protesters. More than 8,500 people have filled refugee camps in neighboring Turkey as government troops backed by tanks swept through the rebellious town of Jisr al-Shughour approximately 20 kilometers from the Turkish border, detaining hundreds of people.
The Syrian troops pushed toward the northern town of Maarat al-Numaan on the Damascus-Aleppo highway, forcing local residents to flee the area, Reuters reported early on Tuesday.
There have been reports of Syrian soldiers refusing to fire at protesters and defecting to fight alongside rebels.
Official Syrian reports say the army has been fighting armed terrorist groups which are orchestrated from abroad.