Arab League approves sanctions against Syria
According to a league official, Syrian neighbors Iraq and Lebanon expressed reservations about the sanctions, saying they would hurt the Syrian people rather than the regime. The official asked that his name not be published because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Syria is a geographical and political keystone in the heart of the Middle East, bordering five countries, with whom it shares religious and ethnic minorities and, in Israel’s case, a fragile truce. Its web of allegiances extends to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement and Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
Also Sunday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh acknowledged that 100 Syrian military and police deserters have taken refuge in the kingdom during the uprising. It was the first official public confirmation that Jordan hosts Syrian defectors.
In September, officials said privately that Jordan had received 60 Syrian army and police deserters, who ranged in rank from corporal to colonel.
Mr. Judeh told the Associated Press that the Syrian soldiers and policemen, whom he claimed were conscripts rather than officers, had arrived in batches over the past eight months.
Many Syrians fleeing Mr. Assad’s crackdown have also sought refuge in neighboring Turkey.
The Gulf nations of Qatar and Bahrain on Sunday warned their citizens to avoid travel to Syria and called on those already there to leave immediately. The Foreign Affairs ministries of both countries cited concerns about the security situation in issuing the travel alerts. They did not mention the planned Arab League vote.
The calls come two days after the United Arab Emirates issued a similar warning to its citizens.
Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.