Syria: AL wants to increase pressure as CIA monitors arms supply to rebels
The Arab League on Thursday expressed the hope that the mandate of envoy Kofi Annan will be reinforced and in order to increase the pressure on Damascus with a particular use of Chapter VII of the UN Charter to stop the violence that killed over 15,000 people since March 2011.
The Arab League No. 2 Ahmed Ben Helli said in an interview with the Russian agency Interfax: "To carry out this plan, we need a new step by the Security Council, perhaps with a stronger pressure on the Syrian regime."
"So I think we should have recourse to Chapter VII," he said.
This chapter, which provides for enforcement measures with respect to threats against peace, ranging from economic sanctions to the use of military force, had been used last year as part of the NATO mandate to intervene in Libya to protect the civilian population. This operation had led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia and China allowed this move by not vetoing it in the Security Council, but later accused NATO of having exceeded its mandate. They insist on not allowing the repetition of the "Libyan scenario" in Syria.
The head of the Arab League has sought to convince Russia on this point: "I think this possibility is not envisaged by the international community."
M. Ben Helli called on Russia to stop supplying arms to the Syrian regime: "Any assistance to violence must stop, because when you deliver military equipment, you are helping to kill people. This must stop ".
Moscow denies sending weapons to the regime that could be used to suppress anti-government protests while Washington denies arming the opposition.
The New York Times, however, reported on Thursday that the CIA monitors Turkish arms shipments to the rebels to ensure they do not fall into the hands of Al Qaeda.
The U.S. daily, citing U.S. officials and members of Arab intelligence services, said that the weapons delivered to the rebels are purchased by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and shipped across the border by a network of Syrian opposition activists.
The deliveries include automatic rifles, grenade launchers, ammunition and some anti-tank weapons that allowed the rebels to resist the government forces. The newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying the U.S. could increase aid to the rebels by providing satellite photos and other sensitive information.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Army shelled neighborhoods in Homs city in central Syria, where pockets of rebels where pounded relentlessly as well as the nearby town of Qousseir. It is reported that at least 70 people were killed on Thursday across Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), heavy fighting took place in the province of Idleb (northwest) as well as the town of Enkhel , in the province of Deraa (south).
On Wednesday, 98 people were killed including 53 civilians, 35 soldiers and 10 rebels.