Urgent Arab foreign ministers meeting in Morocco links dispatching Syria observers to halt of all acts of violence, killing

Prince Saud al-Faisal: Arab interest about Syria not impertinence

Syrian FM says Arab League’s suspension of Syria’s membership illegitimate

Arab rejection of Syria’s bid to convene emergency summit

UN condemns attacks targeting embassies in Syria

The Arab League confirmed the suspension of Syria from the organization on Wednesday and gave its government three days to halt the violence and accept an observer mission or face economic sanctions.

The suspension — first announced by the Arab League on Saturday and confirmed during the meeting — is a surprisingly harsh and highly unusual move for a member of Syria's standing.

Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim told reporters following the daylong meeting in Rabat, Morocco, that Syria is being offered the chance to end the violence against civilians and implement a peace plan that the Arab League outlined on Nov. 2. The U.N. estimates that more than 3,500 people have been killed in Syria's 8-month-old uprising.

"The Syrian government has to sign the protocol sent by the Arab League and end all violence against demonstrators," he said, adding that it has three days. "Economic sanctions are certainly possible, if the Syrian government does not respond. But we are conscious that such sanctions would touch the Syrian people."

The protocol calls for an observer mission of 30-50 members under the auspices of the Arab League to ensure that Syria is following the Arab plan, calling for the regime to halt its attacks on protesters, pull tanks and armored vehicles out of cities, release political prisoners, and allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

The protocol did not specifically say if Syria's suspension from the organization has remained in force, but an official from the Moroccan Foreign Ministry confirmed that is the case. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk with the media.

The Arab League also demanded the withdrawal of Syria's representative to the organization.

"In the light of insulting and undiplomatic words of the permanent Syrian representative, the Arab League is asking the Syrian government to withdraw its representative," said the League statement, without identifying the behavior in question.

The Arab League has rarely taken decisive actions to deal with crises in the Arab world out of reluctance to criticize fellow governments. But in this case, several members have described their forceful engagement in the Syrian situation as a way of staving off the kind of foreign intervention that took place in Libya earlier this year. NATO's bombing campaign against Libya took place less than a month after it was suspended by the Arab League on Feb. 22.

"Arab leaders don't have a legacy of commenting and interfering in domestic events in Arab countries, so now this is a turning point for the Arab League," said Gamal Abdelgawad, a Cairo-based commentator on Arab affairs.

"Arab governments are being exposed to pressure from their public, from the Syrian people and on the international level, so the Arab League has to do something — they can't keep staying on the sidelines," he added.

Even Turkey, which once had close ties with Syria, has expressed increasing concern over the situation across the border.

"We denounce the mass murder of the Syrian people," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was in Morocco for a meeting on Arab-Turkish ties. "It is all of our responsibility to end the bloodshed in Syria."

Bin Jassim of Qatar declined to give any details about possible economic sanctions against Syria, if it refuses the observer mission. But the Arab news channel al-Arabiya suggested they would likely take place in coordination with Turkey and include the energy sector.

Its suspension from the Arab League has enraged Syria, which considers itself a bastion of Arab nationalism. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem boycotted Wednesday's meeting.

The threat of Arab sanctions comes on top of rising threats of sanctions from European countries and the United States as well leaving Syria even more isolated.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby confirmed that the organization has been in touch with the Syrian opposition and said it has identified 16 regions in particular that needed to be monitored.

"We have spoken with the Syrian opposition on all topics, but they never requested weapons," he added.

Qatar, which chairs the Arab League committee on the Syrian situation, has been particularly forceful on resolving the situation and bin Jassim expressed a degree of impatience about the continuing bloodshed and violence in the country.

"We want solutions, not (more) speeches. The killing must be stopped," he said.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that the Arab League follow-up of the events in Syria is not interference in the internal affairs, but it reflects the keenness on Arab cooperation and development.

In a press statement to Al-Arabiya TV Channel after heading the Kingdom's delegation to the fourth session of Arab-Turkish Cooperation Forum, Prince Saud said 'The bloody events in Syria hurt all Arab and Muslim people.

The measures taken by the Arab League to solve the problem are not interference in the internal affairs, but they reflect the keenness on Arab cooperation and development. Thus, all objectives are positive and in favor of Syria. What is important is that bloodshed stops, dialogue begins, destruction machines withdraw, and Syrian people live in peace and security.'

Syria's foreign minister accused Arab states on Monday of conspiring against Damascus after the Arab League voted to suspend Syria's membership over the government's deadly crackdown on an eight month-old uprising.

Walid al-Mouallem said Saturday's near-unanimous vote at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo was "shameful and malicious," betraying his country's deep alarm over the decision.

The vote was a stinging rebuke to a regime that prides itself as a bastion of Arab nationalism and left Syria increasingly isolated over a crackdown that the U.N. estimates has killed more than 3,500 people since mid-March.

"We wanted the role of the Arab League to be a supporting role but if the Arabs wanted to be conspirators, this is their business," he told a press conference in Damascus.

The vote to suspend Syria put Damascus in direct confrontation with other Arab powers, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who were pushing for the suspension. The vote constituted a major boost for the Syrian opposition.

The unified Arab position also puts more pressure on the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions, despite objections by Syrian allies Russia and China. Only Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the Arab League suspension of Syria, with Iraq abstaining.

An Arab League decision had paved the way for the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and NATO airstrikes that eventually brought down Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, but the group has stressed international intervention was not on the agenda in Syria.

Still, al-Mouallem played on fears that the diplomatic campaign could escalate to Libya-style military action, saying Syria's army is far stronger than Libya's.

"They know that our valiant army has capabilities that they might not be able to tolerate if they are used," he said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asserts that extremists pushing a foreign agenda to destabilize Syria are behind the country's unrest, rather than true reform-seekers aiming to open the country's autocratic political system.

Syria had earlier called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the country's spiraling political unrest. But critics say that is another possible bid by Assad to buy time as he faces snowballing punitive action.

In Brussels, European Union foreign ministers were discussing imposing additional sanctions on Syria in response to the continuing killings of protesters.

The EU already has put sanctions on 56 Syrians and 19 organizations in its effort to get Assad to halt his bloody crackdown, and has banned the import into the EU of Syrian crude oil.

"We have adopted a wide range of sanctions already, but I think there's a very good case to add to those," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday on his way into the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Russia, meanwhile, indicated that Assad still has the support of Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency saying Moscow opposes the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria.

Earlier, Syria invited Arab League officials to visit before the membership suspension is scheduled to take effect on Wednesday, and said they could bring any civilian or military observers they deem appropriate to oversee implementation of an Arab League plan for ending the bloodshed.

The Syrian government is usually loath to accept anything resembling foreign intervention, and the invitation signaled the government's concern over the Arab action.

The crisis has raised regional tensions, with Turkey sending a plane to evacuate nonessential personnel after Saturday attacks on several embassies including Ankara's by Syrian government supporters angry over the Arab League decision.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday that his country would take a "decisive attitude" in the face of attacks on its missions in Syria, and will continue his country's policy of supporting the Syrian opposition.

Turkey also formally protested the attacks and issued a warning against traveling to Syria.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Tuesday rejected Syria's call to hold an emergency Arab summit, making it very unlikely the Arab League would agree to hold the meeting.

Syria's call Monday for an emergency meeting of Arab leaders was an apparent effort to forestall its suspension by the Arab League over its violent crackdown on protesters.

Nabil al-Araby, the Arab League's secretary general, said he had delivered Syria's request to the 22 member states and 15 of them would have to approve in order to hold a summit, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA.

GCC Secretary-General Abdulattif al-Zayani said the group of six Gulf Arab states continued to support League efforts to end the bloodshed.

The League's suspension is a particularly bitter blow for Assad who has always seen himself as a champion of Arab unity.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned attacks on foreign embassies in Syria by pro-government demonstrators and called on Damascus to protect diplomatic premises and staff.

Crowds attacked the Turkish and Saudi Arabian embassies in Damascus on Saturday night, as well as France's honorary consulate in Latakia and diplomatic offices in Aleppo.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem apologized on Monday for the attacks, which came after the Arab League announced it was suspending Damascus for its crackdown on eight months of protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

"The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks against several embassies and consular premises in Syria," said a statement issued by the 15-nation body.

The council members "reiterated their call on the Syrian authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel and fully respect their international obligations in this regard," it added.

The council issued a similar statement in July after demonstrators attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

But Russia and China last month blocked a Western-backed resolution that would have condemned Syria for its crackdown on protesters and warned of possible sanctions.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have died in the crackdown.