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“The time has come for a decisive action to stop the bloodshed suffered by the Syrian people since the start of last year,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told the Arab foreign ministers. “We must move quickly in all directions … to end the cycle of violence in Syria.”

Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain — also are proposing the expulsion of Syrian ambassadors from all Arab League nations during the meeting in Cairo. The GCC ministers also proposed that Arab nations withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus, according to the officials.

The six nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been campaigning for a tougher stand against Mr. Assad’s regime and may offer formal recognition of the National Syrian Council, the largest of Syria’s opposition groups, at Sunday’s meeting.

Mr. Assad’s regime has pursued a harsh crackdown against the uprising since it began in March. The United Nations estimates that 5,400 people have been killed since March, but that figure is from January, when the world body stopped counting because the chaos in Syria has made it all but impossible to check the figures. Hundreds are reported to have been killed since.

Arab League officials said Mr. Elaraby has accepted the resignation of Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Al-Dabi, the head of the Syrian observer mission, and nominated former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah al-Khatib as the new envoy. A decision on Mr. al-Khatib’s nomination would be made later in the day by Arab foreign ministers meeting in the Egyptian capital.

There was no word on the reasons behind Gen. Al-Dabi’s resignation, but the Sudanese general was harshly criticized for his management of the monitors mission, which was perceived by the Syrian opposition and many protesters to have provided a cover for the regime’s continued crackdown.

Gen. Al-Dabi also was criticized for being a longtime aide of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, himself indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where a revolt against the Khartoum government began in 2003 but petered out about five years later.

“The new mission must be totally different from the previous one,” Mr. Elaraby told the foreign ministers as he proposed a joint Arab League-U.N. mission to Syria. “The previous experience has shown that there can be no restoration of security without a political vision.”

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject and also because the proposals have not yet been adopted.