Syria: Hague Condemns 'Criminal' Regime' As Qatar Calls For Military Intervention

Syrian Protesters

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 24/02/2012 14:54 Updated: 24/02/2012 18:51

Members of the Arab League have called for a military force to be created to impose peace on Syria at an international conference on the crisis.

The Arab League, United States, UK, France and Turkey were all in attendance at the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia, in an attempt to find a way to end the violence.

Qatari prime minister Hamad Bin Jassim said: "There is a need to create an Arab force and open humanitarian corridors to provide security to the Syrian people."

The Saudia Arabian delegation walked out of the talks in protest, saying that talks about humanitarian aid "were not enough".

Elsewhere the EU will reportedly impose fresh sanctions on the regime. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on other nations to follow suit.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters the Syrian government is now a "criminal regime".

Hague said that he now recognised the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as "a legitimate representative of the Syrian people".

“I think we have seen enough in the last few weeks to know that the Assad regime will go down in history as a criminal regime.

"The United Kingdom will continue our work to help document the crimes that are taking place so that one day those responsible for them will have to answer for their actions."

The foreign secretary also called on China and Russia, who have consistently voted against condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad' regime in the United Nations, to change their position.

"I hope those countries will take note of this strength of international feeling and support that we’re seeing here in Tunisia with more than sixty countries coming together," he told reporters. "Because it means that they are increasingly isolated in their view."

"It’s very important for Moscow and Beijing to a re-evaluate their position".

Neither Russia or China are attending the 70-nation Friends of Syria meeting organised by the Arab League.

Earlier Russia issued a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire in the country on both sides. It said other countries must condemn the actions of the armed opposition as well as the government.

Hague stopped short of acceding to demands made by opposition fighters for more arms to be brought into the country, saying that the EU had to recognise its arms embargo "in all directions".

But the SNC insisted it needed the means to defend itself.

It said in a statement: "If the regime fails to accept the terms of the political initiative outlined by the Arab League and end violence against citizens, the Friends of Syria should not constrain individual countries from aiding the Syrian opposition by means of military advisers, training and provision of arms to defend themselves."

Other opposition groups boycotted the meeting, according to the AFP, including the National Co-ordination Committee For Democratic Change.

They say that the meeting leaves open the possibility of military intervention.

It was also reported that a group of pro-Assad protesters had broken into the grounds where the meeting its taking place.

Meanwhile activists reported continuing violence across Syria after around 100 people were killed on Thursday.

Videos posted by citizen journalists showed a high presence of Syrian forces in Daraa, close to the Jordanian border, including snipers posted on the top of buildings.

The protests there continued regardless, it was reported. Hundreds gathered to chant ""oh Homs, we are with you till death", the Activists' News Association said.

One activist told the Guardian of the discovery of 18 bodies in the city of Hama, who it appeared had been summarily executed.

Above: defiant protests continue, as this clip recorded in Homs on Friday appears to show

Around 20 people were killed on Wednesday in a single shelling attack on a makeshift media centre in the town of Homs, including two western journalists.

Yesterday, survivors of the attack called for help in getting out of the beleaguered city in order to receive medical help.

Medics are reportedly having to use threads from clothing to stitch up wounds, while houses are becoming more and more uninhabitable, windows knocked through and walls crumbling after heavy shelling.

Children that have managed to make it past the border into neighbouring countries are still suffering from the trauma they experienced inside Syria. A BBC journalist spoke to one man who had fled to Jordan, saying that his children still flinch when they hear loud noises, asking if they are gunfire.

Up to 9,000 people have died since the start of anti-government protesters in March 2011, activists have said.

The Syrian government insists the violence is mainly the result of "armed terrorist groups".

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This image from amateur video purports to show Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro in a makeshift clinic in Homs, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. Bouvier was wounded in shelling Wednesday in Homs. (AP Photo) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL.
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