x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

GCC countries to withdraw Arab League mission observers from Syria

The GCC states also call on "members of the UN Security Council ... to take all needed measures at the Security Council to press Syria to implement the Arab League decisions and the Arab initiative on Syria".

Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint in Homs. GCC countries said they will remove their Arab League mission monitors from Syria.
Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint in Homs. GCC countries said they will remove their Arab League mission monitors from Syria.

RIYADH // GCC countries decided to pull their observers sent to Syria as part of an Arab League mission out of the country, the bloc said today.

"Gulf Cooperation Council states have decided to follow Saudi Arabia's decision to pull out its observers from the Arab League mission in Syria," the GCC statement said.

The GCC also called on the UN Security Council to increase pressure on the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, to step down. The Arab League on Sunday issued a timetable for the Mr Al Assad to step down.

The GCC states call on "members of the UN Security Council ... to take all needed measures at the Security Council to press Syria to implement the Arab League decisions and the Arab initiative on Syria".

On Monday, Syria rejected the Arab League's plan to end the country's 10-month crisis, saying the league's call for a national unity government in two months was a clear violation of Syrian sovereignty.

Saudi Arabia, the largest GCC member, decided on Sunday to pull its observers from a widely criticised league mission to Syria. Other GCC members include the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, said Riyadh "is withdrawing from the mission because the Syrian government has not respected any of the clauses" in the Arab plan aimed at ending the crisis.

Mr Al Assad blames the uprising that erupted in March on terrorists and armed gangs acting out a foreign conspiracy to destabilise the country. His regime has retaliated with a brutal crackdown that the UN says has killed more than 5,400 people.

* With additional reporting by Associated Press