- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RABAT, Morocco — Foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League on Wednesday are expected to formalize their weekend decision to suspend Syria for refusing to end its bloody crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Arab League foreign ministers gathering in Morocco will make official the suspension, which the league voted over the weekend to enforce unless Syria immediately halted its crackdown.

Violence has continued unabated since Syria agreed on Nov. 2 to an Arab-brokered peace deal that called for the regime to halt violence against protesters, pull tanks and armored vehicles out of cities, release political prisoners and allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

Speaking at the meeting’s opening session, Qatar’s foreign minister, Hamad bin Jassim, said “it is very sad what is happening. We do not accept the killing of the Syrian people. The Syrian government must apply the Arab League plan.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was also attending the meeting, added, “We denounce the mass murder of the Syrian people.”

Turkey is not a member of the league, but has welcomed the decision.

The suspension decision has enraged Syria, which considers itself a bastion of Arab nationalism. Syria announced on state-run TV that it would boycott the meeting.

Damascus fears the United States and its allies might use the rare Arab consensus to press for tougher sanctions at the United Nations. Veto-wielding Russia and China have so far opposed efforts at the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria — a stance that could become harder to maintain.



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