Arab League to Assad: 'Safe Exit' If You Go Now

US, meanwhile, steps up non-military efforts against Assad
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2012 2:26 AM CDT
Updated Jul 23, 2012 7:46 AM CDT
Arab League to Assad: 'Safe Exit' If You Go Now
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, shown here in 2009, is being shown the door by the Arab League. But will he leave?   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

(Newser) – The UN Security Council may be preventing nations from becoming involved in Syria's civil war, but the US is increasingly pushing secret, non-military efforts to hurt Bashar al-Assad's regime, reports the Wall Street Journal. And the Arab League is trying to shoo him out the door. The main US strategy is to prevent Iran-to-Syria air shipments, chiefly by getting Iraq to deny use of its airspace to Iran. Officially, Iran claims to be sending Syria cut flowers, but US officials are convinced it is really sending arms. A similar program is attempting to close the Suez Canal to ships heading to Syria, but apparently that's having less success. The US also reportedly has been helping the Free Syrian Army get weapons and logistics, but rebels complain the US is not doing enough.

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The Arab League is strongly encouraging Assad to step down, promising him "a safe exit" if he leaves quickly, reports the Telegraph. "We call on the opposition and the Free Syrian Army to form a government of national unity," said the Qatari foreign minister, saying Assad should make the "courageous" choice and resign. Yesterday 123 people died in fighting around the country, according to opposition activists, raising the toll to 1,290 over the past week and more than 10,000 since the uprisings began 16 months ago. (Read more Syria stories.)

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