The Arab League called on the Syrian army to stop the killing of civilians on Saturday and said it was suspending Syria from the regional body in a surprise move that turns up the heat on President Bashar Assad.
The League will impose economic and political sanctions on Assad's government and has appealed to its member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus, said Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim.
Syria takes bloody new turn; 250 killed in 11 daysNasrallah warns of regional war if Iran, Syria attacked
He said the suspension would take effect on November 16. He said 18 countries agreed to Saturday's decision, while Lebanon, Yemen and Syria voted against it and Iraq abstained.
"We were criticized for taking a long time but this was out of our concern for Syria," he told reporters in Cairo. "We needed to have a majority to approve those decisions."
"We are calling all Syrian opposition parties to a meeting at the Arab League headquarters to agree a unified vision for the transitional period," Jassim said.
Last week the Arab League announced that an agreement has been reached with Syria, aiming to stop the violence against protesters, but the killings only intensified; more than 250 Syrian civilians have been killed in the past 11 days as the regime besieged the renegade city of Homs and the conflict took a dangerous turn, stoking fears of civil war.
The UN estimates some 3,500 people have been killed in the crackdown since mid-March, when the uprising began. The latest figures would push that number closer to 4,000.
AP and Reuters contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop