Arab summit kicks off with calls to arm Syria rebels
Syria\’s opposition chief urged Arab leaders Tuesday to pressure the international community to supply rebels with advanced weapons that would tip the balance of power on the ground.
More than 140,000 people have been killed and another 2.5 million have fled the country since Syria\’s civil war began in March 2011. The conflict started with mass street protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned into an insurgency after a violent crackdown on demonstrators.
Syrian Opposition National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba issued the appeal Tuesday in Kuwait City at the annual summit of the 22-member Arab League.
Jarba also said the decision to keep Syria\’s seat vacant at the summit instead of turn it over to the opposition sends a message to Assad that he can kill while the seat waits for him.
Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz urged supporters of Syrian opposition fighters to provide more weapons to aid in the rebel effort. Saudi Arabia is a key backer of the rebels.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called for an end to the flow of weapons to all combatants in the war. He insisted on the need for a political solution to end the conflict.
Syria\’s seat had been vacant since the Arab League suspended its membership in 2011. Most Arab League members have called for President Assad to step down.
On Monday, Brahimi said peace talks meant to end to the fighting in Syria will not continue anytime soon. He said the conditions for a new round of talks have not been met. Syria\’s government and the opposition to President Assad have held two rounds of negotiations that ended in late January, but made little progress.