Tens of thousands of angry Syrians poured into the streets yesterday to protest the Arab League decision to suspend their membership, even as their neighbour Turkey urged the international community to adopt a united response to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
The demonstrations in support of the regime drew large numbers in the capital Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, Tartous and Hasakeh.
Facing growing isolation, the Syrian government called for an urgent Arab summit and invited Arab League officials to visit the nation before its membership suspension takes effect on Wednesday.
Syrian state television said the objective of its proposed summit would be to discuss the “negative repercussions on the Arab situation”.
The violence, including attacks on embassies, continued with reports of at least 11 people killed in shootings by security forces. Turkey sent planes to evacuate diplomatic staff and their families after attacks on embassies and consulates.
Protesters also attacked the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and France.
“The attitude of the Syrian government ... demonstrates the need for the international community to respond with a united voice to the serious developments in Syria,” the Turkish foreign ministry was quoted as saying.
Earlier, Turkey summoned the Syrian charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara over attacks on its diplomatic missions.
Yesterday, the League said it was studying measures to protect Syrian civilians. “The Arab League is studying mechanisms it could implement to protect civilians in Syria,” the League’s secretary-general, Nabeel Al Arabi, told reporters in Libya, without going into details.
Al Arabi hailed the League’s decision to suspend Syria as “historic,” and said the 22-member bloc called for “international protection” of civilians in the country as it did not have the means to act alone.
The move won widespread praise in the international community, and was hailed by the opposition Syrian National Council, which said it was ready to take part in proposed talks regarding a transitional period.