Arab League slams Syrian regime ‘massacres’

Arab leaders call for political solution to conflict in Syria, although opposition had asked for “sophisticated” arms.

The Arab League, in its final statement, refused to recognise Israel as a Jewish state [Reuters]

Arab leaders have called for a political solution to the conflict in Syria, although the Syrian opposition had asked for “sophisticated” arms to tip the balance of power.

The regional body, in its final statement issued on Wednesday after a two-day summit in Kuwait, also condemned the mass killings committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the massacres and the mass killing committed by the Syrian regime’s forces against the unarmed people,” said Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah, reading from the statement.

“We call for a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the Geneva I declaration,” it read.

The Geneva Declaration was drawn up at an international conference in 2012 as a road map for Syria’s political transition.

The two warring sides met at so-called Geneva II peace talks which UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi broke off on February 15 without setting a date for a resumption of negotiations.

‘Sophisticated weapons’

The head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmad al-Jarba, during the opening session of the Arab League summit, called on leaders to exert pressure on the international community “to commit to its pledges to provide sophisticated weapons to our revolutionaries” and increase humanitarian support.

The Arab League, in the communique, recognises the SNC as the legal representative of the Syrian people, despite the League’s decision to bar the opposition from filling Syria’s seat at the summit.

Jarba said keeping Syria’s seat empty would embolden Assad, sending a message that “he can kill, and that the seat will wait for him to resolve his war”.

The SNC, which was initially approved to replace the Assad government as the representative of Syria in the 22-member bloc, was denied that right after reservations from Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria.

In a presser at the end of the summit, Nabil Elaraby, the League’s secetary-general, said the SNC would participate in ministerial meetings “on exceptional basis”.

Wednesday’s communique also refused to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and condemned what it called the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

“We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state,” said the declaration.

The Palestinians recognised Israel at the start of the peace process in the early 1990s, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted they now acknowledge it as the national homeland of the Jewish people, in a move which would effectively disregard the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies