Arab League Hems, Haws on Whether Assad Must Go

At least 15 killed today as violence continues
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2012 7:43 AM CDT
Clashes Sweep Syria as Arab League Mulls Peace
In this Tuesday, March 27, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, protesters wave Syrian revolutionary flags during a demonstration in Daraa, Syria.   (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)

Even as the Arab League met in Baghdad today to discuss implementation of a Syria peace deal, clashes between rebels and security forces continued, killing at least 15. With only 10 of 22 leaders in attendance, the League is apparently backing down from a call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, and despite the fact that Assad has apparently agreed to UN envoy Kofi Annan's proposed peace plan, Arab leaders are split on how to handle the continued fighting, Reuters reports. Further complicating matters: The Syrian National Council has not formally accepted the plan, since it does not call for Assad's immediate resignation; opposition representatives are set to meet with Western foreign ministers Sunday.

Syria said yesterday that it won't accept initiatives from the Arab League as a whole, but would deal with individual states. The Annan plan has been met with skepticism by Western powers, but Russia and China have endorsed it and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Assad to implement it immediately. But Assad has not taken the steps necessary to do that, according to a US State Department spokesperson. Meanwhile, as the Arab summit opened today, two explosions were heard in Baghdad, the AP adds. An Iraqi official says one mortar hit just outside the Green Zone, where the meeting is being held, but had no word on the second. (Read more Syria stories.)

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