Arab leaders urge Assad to act on peace plan

Arab leaders dropped a demand that Bashar al-Assad give up the presidency of Syria but urged him to act quickly on a UN-backed peace plan he has accepted, as fighting between Syrian troops and rebels killed at least another 22 people.

“The solution for the crisis is still in the hands of the Syrians as a government and opposition,” Arab League secretary general Nabil Elaraby told Arab heads of state at a summit meeting in Baghdad.

Syria’s opposition groups continue to demand that Assad must go and have not agreed to peace talks.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon kept up pressure on Assad, saying he must turn his acceptance of the six-point peace plan into action, to shift his country off a “dangerous trajectory” with risks for the entire region.

“It is essential that President Assad put those commitments into immediate effect,” Ban said.

“The world is waiting for commitments to be translated into action. The key here is implementation, there is no time to waste,” Ban told the Arab League Summit.

In Istanbul, Syrian opposition representatives met to try to settle deep internal disputes before the arrival of Western foreign ministers for a “Friends of Syria” conference on Sunday to map out where the year-old uprising is heading.

The chances of Western powers deciding to arm the insurgents at this point appeared to be very remote.

Reports from the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence, said at least 16 people and six government soldiers were killed across the country — in army raids on villages, in a rebel ambush and in clashes.

The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed 9,000 people.


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