US: Arab leaders offering Assad safe haven


 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 

State Department official says most Arab leaders believe Assad to be toppled soon

Arab leaders are privately telling the United States that they have offered Syrian President Bashar Assad “safe haven” in a bid to convince him to step down, a top US diplomat told lawmakers on Wednesday.

“Almost all the Arab leaders say the same thing: Assad’s rule is coming to an end. Change in Syria is now inevitable,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Some Arab leaders already have begun to offer Assad safe-haven in an effort to encourage him to leave peaceably and quickly,” Feltman said at a hearing on US policy towards the bloody unrest in Syria.

Feltman added that US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was expected to return to Damascus within a few days or weeks after leaving the country for security reasons in October.

Assad’s deadly crackdown on protests that erupted in mid-March has left more than 3,500 people dead, according to the United Nations, and fed increasing international anger at the regime in Damascus.

A human rights group said Wednesday that security forces killed 12 civilians in Syria, which just last week signed up to an Arab League peace plan which called for an end to violence.

Under the plan, Damascus would also release those detained for protesting, and withdraw all Syrian forces from towns and cities. It says it has already released more than 500.

But since signing the Arab roadmap, up to Tuesday according to the United Nations, Syrian forces have killed another 60 people.

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