Saudi Arabia calls for decisive measures on Syria as NATO pleads for ‘political’ solution


Saudi Arabia on Monday called on the international community to take “decisive measures” to end the bloodshed in Syria, a cabinet statement said.

“The kingdom calls on the international community to take decisive measures to stop ... the mass slaughter” of the Syrian people, the official SPA news agency quoted the government as saying.

President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime “must immediately end the massacres and fully implement the... (U.N.) plan aimed at reaching a political solution in line with the aspirations of the Syrian people,” it added.

The statement was released at a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by King Abdullah.

It called for a “fixed timeframe” for the implementation of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan which demands an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of troops from urban centers.

From his side, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on the international community to enforce a political solution in Syria while reiterating that there would be no military intervention.

“The right response to this crisis remains a political [one]. And a concerted response by the international community against a regime that has lost all humanity and all legitimacy,” Rassmusen told a news conference.

Welcoming the weekend meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva, he said “the international community has a duty to put an end” to the conflict “and to do it now.”

World powers agreed on Saturday on a plan for a political transition in Syria that could include current regime members.

Russia and China insisted that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out rather than allow others to dictate their fate but the West does not see any role for President Assad in a new unity government.

“This conflict has already gone on for too long. It has cost too many lives, and put the stability of the whole region at risk,” said Rasmussen.

He also said that “NATO has not received requests for deployment of military assets” and that “NATO as an alliance has no dialogue with opposition groups in Syria”.

Shelling of Syrian towns

In Syria, regime helicopters bombarded a suburb of Damascus on Monday while Turkey had scrambled warplanes near the border in the north.

In the province of Damascus, regime forces shelled the Hammuriyeh fields near the village of Beit Sawa for a third day in a row.

Syrian government forces have also launched an assault on Douma, a city on the edge of Damascus where they stormed a rebel stronghold two days ago leaving bodies rotting in the streets of the nearly abandoned town.

“The bombardment of Douma continued today using helicopters. Some activists entered the city today and they saw at least seven decaying bodies in the streets under the sun. One man had been executed inside his house,” said Mohamed Doumany, an activist who fled the city two days ago and was now nearby.

“There is huge destruction in the city, which is almost empty. Only a few of its people remain inside,” he told Reuters by Skype.

The Syrian army retained its bombardment of rebel neighborhoods of the central city of Homs, a watchdog said.

Four civilians were killed in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which added they died when the car they were travelling in was shelled.

One civilian was killed when regime forces shelled the rebel-held town of Rastan in Homs province, the Britain-based group said, adding a rebel was killed in the same province.

Another civilian was killed in Daraa, the Observatory said.

An activist in Homs told AFP via Skype that many civilians remained trapped in the shelling of the Jurat al-Shiah, Khalidiyeh and Old City neighborhoods of Syria’s third-largest city.

“Many neighborhoods of Homs are still under siege, and it is really hard for us to get food or medicines in,” said Khaled al-Tellawy.

“Field doctors are amputating the limbs of the injured because they have no equipment to treat them with, and they can’t be smuggled out.”

The besieged neighborhoods of Homs are among a string of areas that have fallen into the effective control of rebel fighters, the Observatory said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent attempted in late June but were unable to enter the hardest-hit districts of the city.

The Observatory also reported violent shelling and clashes between rebels and regime troops in several other areas of the country on Monday, including the southern province of Daraa, Aleppo in the north, and the central province of Hama.

More than 16,500 people have been killed in violence in Syria since the uprising against Assad’s rule erupted in March last year, according to the watchdog.