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Syrian people must be "rescued" from Assad "oppression" - GCC
September 8, 2013, 10:08 am

The head of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has urged the international community to intervene immediately to “rescue” the Syrian people from an “oppressive” regime, according to a statement published by Saudi media.

Speaking ahead of talks in Paris today between Arab foreign ministers and their Western counterparts, GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al Zayani said “the genocide, and grave human rights violations faced by the Syrian people necessitate an immediate intervention by the international community”.

The intervention would aim to “rescue the brotherly Syrian people from the oppression of its regime, and bring its suffering to an end”, the statement, reported by the Saudi Gazette said.

“The Syrian regime is fully responsible for what is happening in Syria, for rejecting all attempts to solve the crisis, and continuing to practice killing and destruction, including the use of chemical weapons.”

The appeal comes as the US and its allies weigh action against Syria.

The Paris meeting was called to discuss Palestine, but Syria is likely to overshadow the session to be attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Nabil Elaraby, secretary-general of the Arab League, will also be at the Paris meeting, according to a statement published by the Arab News.

The statement said Kerry, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliky and other Arab ministers would discuss the latest developments on the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

US President Barack Obama awaits a vote by the US Congress over his request to strike Syria over its use of chemical weapons.

Fresh from a G20 summit in Saint Petersburg where he failed to win over world leaders to his cause, Obama urged Congress to authorise an intervention over President Bashar Al Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria,” Obama said in his weekly address.

“That’s why I call on members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in.”

Congress reconvenes on Monday and Obama is set to address the nation Tuesday about a possible US response to the August 21 attack that left hundreds dead on the outskirts of Damascus.

Meanwhile, European Union nations at a meeting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, called for a “strong” response on Syria but stopped short of endorsing military action.

Washington sought to muster support from its divided allies in Europe, with Kerry holding protracted talks with the EU’s 28 foreign ministers in Vilnius before arriving in France for talks with his French counterpart. He will head to Britain on Sunday.

A statement read out by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton described last month’s suspected chemical weapons attack as “a war crime and a crime against humanity.”

There was “strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible,” she added. “The international community cannot remain idle.”

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