Arab troops should be sent to halt Syria’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, the emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, said in an interview to be broadcast tonight on the U.S. television network CBS.
Elsewhere in the region, attacks on demonstrators continued in Syria yesterday and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei said he wouldn’t run for president of Egypt.
“Some troops should go to stop the killing” in Syria, the Qatari emir said in the interview with the program “60 Minutes,” according to the CBS website.
Clashes between Syrian state forces and armed dissidents killed or injured at least 20 army soldiers in the city of Hawla, Homs province, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement. Two military armored vehicles were destroyed, the group said.
In an earlier statement, the same group said that state forces killed six people yesterday, while the Arab television network Al-Jazeera said 12 people died.
Syrian security forces kept attacking demonstrators during the Arab League’s two-week deployment of observers, killing about 400 people, United Nations political chief Lynn Pascoe told the 15-member Security Council on Jan. 10. The UN estimates that more than 5,000 people have died since the revolt began in March.
Under an agreement with the Arab League, Syria’s government promised to withdraw military and security forces from urban areas, release political prisoners and allow observers into the country to monitor implementation of the accord.
President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Jan. 10 to use an “iron fist” to resist what he described as foreign-backed efforts to divide the country.
Thousands of Syrians took to the streets Jan. 13 to demand Assad’s ouster as local unrest entered its 11th month, activists said. About 15,000 people rallied in the Damascus suburb of Douma, where clashes were reported between defectors and the army, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 40 military tanks were randomly shelling the Damascus suburb of Zabadani, Ali Ibrahim, an activist, told Al-Jazeera in a telephone interview. “The situation in the town is miserable and at least three were injured so far and they are in critical condition,” Ibrahim said.
In Egypt, ElBaradei said his withdrawal as a candidate for president was to protest the continued military control of the country, according to The New York Times.
“My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a real democratic system,” he said, according to the Times.
ElBaradei won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In Tunisia, where it has been a year since the revolution that ousted Zine El Abdedine ben Ali as president, the Justice Ministry said an amnesty was granted for about 9,000 prisoners. Al-Jazeera reported.