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OIC suspends Syria's membership, UN proposes new mediator

08-16-2012 08:19 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

RIYADH/DAMASCUS/PARIS, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) suspended early Thursday Syria's membership of the 57-member bloc, as ferocious clashes between Syrian troops and armed rebels continues.

At the same time, the United Nations has proposed that a veteran diplomat replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League special joint envoy on Syria at the end of the month.

The OIC proclaimed the suspension in a statement at the end of an extraordinary conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, urging for the immediate end of the acts of violence in Syria, which has been torn by deadly turmoil for 17 months.

Secretary of the Syrian Parliament Khaled Aboud said Wednesday before the OIC decision that the possible suspension would not affect Syria in terms of the economic, political and military situations.

He suggested that Saudi Arabia and the United States could have initiated the proposal, noting that the "terrorists" operating in the country were not home-born but from foreign countries.

It was reported that Algeria and Iran had opposed the suspension of Syria's OIC membership designed to press Damascus to abandon military option.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Tuesday that Iran is against the suspension, while Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem said most Islamic countries were in favor of the OIC's proposal.

However, Algerian Foreign Ministry spokesman Amar Belani on Wednesday dismissed the reports, saying the reports were "abusive and erroneous extrapolations made by some media on the basis of a news wire of a foreign news agency."

Algeria, he said, did express concerns over the suspension due to effectiveness concerns, as such measures do "not have big impact on the course of events in Syria." However, "such a point of view cannot be introduced as a manifestation of an opposition," he stressed.

The United States hailed the OIC's decision as "a strong message to the Assad regime" and "increasing international isolation".

"The United States commends the OIC for its action and commitment to a peaceful resolution in Syria," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Meanwhile, ferocious clashes between government troops and armed rebels are going on in Syria.

The country's state-run SANA news agency said army units clashed Wednesday with insurgents in a number of areas around the northern city of Aleppo, killing many of the rebels and destroying two pick-up trucks equipped with machine guns.

Earlier Wednesday, an explosive device affixed to a diesel truck went off in a military garage in capital Damascus near the Dama-Rose hotel, where the UN observers are residing, leaving at least three people wounded, the state TV said.

The rebel Free Syrian Army was quick to claim credit of the blast, the media said.

Following the blast, a shootout erupted between armed rebels and government troops at the al-Razi orchards, a sprawling district in the capital, close to the cabinet building.

Sources said that the cabinet building was hit with an RPG shell, while the nearby Iranian embassy sustained a number of stray bullets due to the clashes.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar stressed Wednesday his ministry will keep an eye till the terrorism is totally eradicated in Syria, adding that Syrian troops will not waiver in hunting down the "armed terrorist groups."

As the crisis continued with no sign of abating, the United Nations has asked Lakhdar Brahimi to be the UN-Arab League special joint envoy on Syria to replace Annan, who resigned from his post on Aug. 2 after six months in the job due to divided opinions among members of the Security Council.

The UN Security Council is due to be briefed on Thursday about the situation in Syria to mull on whether it would allow its observer mission in Syria to expire on Sunday.

Separately, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was on a three-day visit to neighboring Syrian countries starting Wednesday, aiming at promoting a political solution to the syria crisis.

His tour would cover Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where he would hold talks with senior officials and visit refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more than 18,000 have been killed in the Syrian crisis, while the Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday put the death toll at more than 23,000, among which 16,142 were civilians.

 

 

 

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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