Delegates from the Arab League have said they agree Syria's president Bashar Assad should step down and the Free Syrian Army should form a transitional government of national unity.
The meeting of the Arab League continued into the wee hours of Monday morning. At the conclusion, Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani told journalists at the meeting in Doha that the League's position was unified.
"There is agreement on the need for the rapid resignation of President Bashar al-Assad," he said. "We call on the opposition and the Free Syrian Army to form a government of national unity."
Hamad said Assad could quickly stop the violence that has plagued Syria for 16 months by taking a "courageous decision" and stepping down.
In Damascus, meanwhile, Syrian troops led by Assad's brother bombarded rebel areas with helicopter gun ships in an attempt to drive the rebels out of a northern district.
Syrian state TV played down the levels of violence, saying that Assad's troops - pictured above on a government-sponsored media tour - were hunting and killing "terrorists."
Israeli President Benjamin Natanyahu said in an intervew with an American TV station on Sunday he was concerned Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles could, in the event of Assad's downfall, land in the hands of terror organizations, posing a threat to Israel.
US officials echoed those concerns and also said they were worried that Assad could turn the weapons on his own people.
"We believe that Syria's chemical weapons remain under Syrian government control," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Sunday. "But given the escalation in violence, and the regime's increasing attacks on its own people, we remain very concerned about these weapons."
July is shaping up to be the deadliest in the 16-month-old uprising. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 1,261 people had been killed across Syria since last Sunday. Overall, the conflict has claimed the lives of 19,000 people.
mz, tm/av (AP, AFP, Reuters)
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