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Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim, center, looks at Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi Nabil, left, during today's emergency meeting. AP Photo/Amr Nabil/PA Images

Arab League suspends Syria's membership over crackdown

League putting pressure on Syrian government to stop using violence against its civilians – as it had agreed to do under a recent peace deal.

THE ARAB LEAGUE has voted to suspend Syria from future meetings until its implements a plan it agreed with the league recently to end the government’s violent crackdown on dissent.

The UN recently claimed that over 3,500 civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces in the crackdown on demonstrators protesting against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Protests inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt began in Syria in mid-March.

The Arab League brokered a peace plan for Syria on 2 November under which the Syrian government agreed to stop using violence against protesters and to release all political prisoners.

However, Syria has been heavily criticised for failing to comply with its own agreement. Human rights groups claim that scores of people have been killed by Syrian security forces since the deal was reached. The US accused Syria over a week ago of having a “long, deep and continued history of broken promises, and it has significant blood on its hands”.

Of the 22 members of the Arab League, 18 voted in favour of the suspension, Iraq abstained and three – Lebanon, Yemen and Syria – voted against during today’s emergency meeting in Cairo.

Qatar’s foreign minister Hamad bin Jasim said today that the suspension on Syria’s Arab League membership would begin on Wednesday. He reiterated his calls for the Syrian government to stop using violence against its civilians.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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