“The Arab League will assign its Arab representatives in the U.N. Security Council in the meeting set to take place May 5 to ask the Security Council to protect Syrian civilians immediately,” the Arab League said in a final statement after a meeting in Cairo.
The Arab states were pushed to take action as the U.N. secretary general said was “gravely alarmed” by reports of shelling of populated areas in Syria, in a statement released after the death of scores of people in a massive explosion in the protest city of Hama.
The comments come as media reports quoted activists as saying that up to 70 people have been killed in an attack on a house in the city of Hama. Meanwhile, state media said 16 people died in the blast in a house used as a bomb factory by ‘armed terrorist groups.’
More than 9,000 people have died since a revolt erupted against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in March last year, the United Nations says, while activist groups put the figure at more than 11,100.
Under strong international pressure, Assad’s government has agreed a troop withdrawal from cities as part of a six-point peace plan for Syria agreed with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The latest violence takes place less than a week after the Security Council authorized the establishment of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), made up of up to 300 unarmed military observers and deployed for an initial period of 90 days, to monitor the cessation of violence.
The observers are also tasked with monitoring and supporting the full implementation of a six-point peace plan, put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said the Security Council must be ready to order sanctions if Syria flouts commitments to halt violence. “We condemn what remains the government’s refusal to abide by its commitments, its continued intense use of heavy weaponry in Hama and elsewhere, which continues to result in large numbers of civilian deaths every day,” according to Al arabiya.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, France considered the prospect of military intervention if Annan’s peace plan fails.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the international community would have to push for a Chapter Seven resolution, which authorizes military force.