Syria an Arab responsibility: Morsi

2012-09-05 14:01
Mohammed Morsi (AP, File)

Mohammed Morsi (AP, File)

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Cairo - Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday reiterated his call for the Syrian regime to step down, telling a meeting of the Arab League that a resolution to the crisis is an Arab responsibility.

"I tell the Syrian regime 'there is still a chance to end the bloodshed'," Morsi told Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

"Don't take the right step at the wrong time... because that would be the wrong step," he said.

"Now is the time for change," Morsi said, warning President Bashar Assad's regime to "take lessons from recent history".

Morsi, who in June was elected Egypt's first Islamist leader following an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, urged the Arab diplomats to move quickly to resolve the Syrian conflict which has left 26 000 people dead since the revolt began 17 months ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He told ministers a resolution to the crisis is the responsibility of Arabs.

19 killed

"The Syrian blood that is being shed day and night, we are responsible for this," Morsi said. "We cannot sleep while Syrian blood is being shed."

"I call on you, Arab foreign ministers, to work hard to find an urgent solution to the tragedy in Syria," Morsi said.

Addressing Arab states he said: "If we don't move, the world won't move with any seriousness."

Meanwhile, Syrian forces shelled rebel-controlled zones of Aleppo before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people, among them seven children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Ten civilians were killed in the southern neighbourhood of Bustan al-Qasr while a total of nine bodies, including those of the children, were found in the Marjeh and Hanano neighbourhoods, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Activists have reported relentless bombardments and food shortages in rebel-held neighbourhoods of the country's commercial capital, while an AFP reporter said life in the centre of the city was relatively normal.

Upsurge in violence

Rebel fighters on 20 July opened a new front in the Syrian conflict by launching an attack on Aleppo.

The army has since dislodged them from several sectors, including one of their main strongholds Salaheddin, but pockets of resistance remain.

On Monday, a senior commander in charge of the government's military assault on the rebels in Aleppo predicted his forces would recapture the city within 10 days.

Several areas in Damascus province including Yalda village just south of the capital were bombarded by regime forces on Wednesday, the Observatory said. It also reported shelling of the southern district of Tadamun in Damascus itself.

Local activists reported plumes of smoke hanging over the neighbourhood after Tadamun came under artillery and mortar fire, and helicopters also overflew the area.

The Observatory said the bodies of nine men who had been shot dead were recovered in the city's eastern Jubar district, saying such "incidents have seen an upsurge in recent weeks in Damascus, its province and other Syrian towns".

'Staggering' death toll

It said 37 bodies were found on Tuesday in Damascus province alone.

In the central city of Homs, the rebel bastion of Khaldiyeh came under fierce mortar fire, it added.

New UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Tuesday the death toll in Syria was "staggering" and the destruction "catastrophic".

The Algerian former foreign minister, who took up his post on Saturday, also warned that the situation across the country was "deteriorating steadily".

His comments came as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) chief Peter Maurer launched a mission in Syria to seek greater protection for civilians and the UN refugee agency said 100 000 people had fled the country in August alone to seek refuge in neighbouring states.

The Observatory, which relies on information from a network of activists on the ground, says more than 26 000 people have been killed overall in Syria since the revolt against Assad's rule broke out in March 2011.

The watchdog said 119 people were killed on Tuesday - 79 civilians, 28 soldiers and 12 rebels, including a 15-year-old.

Read more on:    icrc  |  bashar assad  |  mohammed morsi  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

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