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Arab league offers safe exit for Assad resignation

MOSCOW, July 23 — The Arab League on Monday called on embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to swiftly renounce power in exchange for a “safe exit” for him and his family members, al-Arabiya reported.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting in Doha on Monday, Arab League foreign ministers called on Assad to “renounce power,” the report said.

“There is agreement on the need for the rapid resignation of President Bashar al-Assad,” Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was quoted as saying.

The Arab League called on the Free Syrian Army rebels and other opposition groups to form a transitional national unity government along with the “de facto national authority,” al-Arabiya said.

The Arab powers also urged the United Nations General Assembly to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the creation of “security zones” and “humanitarian corridors” in Syria, the report said.

Later in the day, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi rejected the Arab League’s call for Assad’s resignation.

“We are sorry that the Arab League has descended to this level concerning a member state of this institution,” Al-Arabiya quoted him as saying. “This decision only concerns the Syrian people, who are the sole masters of fate of their government.”

Damascus has accused its Arab neighbors of fueling the conflict in Syria by supplying arms to rebels forces. Makdissi said on Monday the Arab League’s statements were “hypocritical.”

“If the Arab nations who met in Doha were honest about wanting to stop the bloodshed, they would have stopped supplying arms… they would stop their instigation and propaganda,” he said.

The Arab League’s statement came as Syrian government troops continued their large-scale offensive to force rebels out of Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo. The mounting violence has forced thousands of Syrians to flee their homes.

More than 3,000 Syrians have escaped to Jordan over the past few days, bringing the number of Syrian refugees in the country to more than 160,000.

Another 30,000 Syrians fled into Lebanon last week, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. A total of 450,000 Syrians have left the country and settled at refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon since the beginning of the unrest in March 2011.

The Arab nations agreed on Monday to allocate 0 million in aid for Syrian refugees, Egyptian media reported, quoting Arab League chief Nabil el-Arabi.

Last week, Russia and China vetoed a third UN Security Council resolution threatening to impose sanctions on the Assad government unless it halts a crackdown on rebel forces.

The 15-member council voted unanimously on Friday to extend a UN monitoring mission in Syria for 30 days. (PNA/RIA Novosti) CTB/rsm

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