SNC head arrives at Arab League for emergency meeting

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 Sep 2013

Arab foreign ministers are expected to arrive within hours for emergency meeting on Syria at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo

Arab League
(Photo: Reuters)

Ahmad Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), arrived on a private jet to Cairo Sunday to attend the Arab League's emergency meeting to discuss the Syrian crisis amid expectations of a US-led military strike on the war-torn state.

The meeting is to be held at the foreign ministers level at 6pm.

Other Arab foreign ministers are expected to arrive in the coming hours to the pan-Arab organisation's headquarters in Cairo.  

The SNC, Syria's main opposition group, and the Arab League accuse Bashar Al-Assad's regime of killing more than 1,300 people last week on the outskirts of the capital Damascus in chemical weapons attacks.

The Syrian government denies the accusations and claims that chemical weapons were used by rebels. The Arab League called on members of the UN Security Council to agree on "deterrent" measures against those who committed "this heinous crime," AP reported.

US President Barack Obama announced Saturday he will request US Congressional approval on military action against Syria, stating the importance of winning the support of American lawmakers.

"I will seek approval for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress," Obama said.

"We are glad the president is seeking authorisation for any military action in Syria," AFP news agency quoted House Speaker John Boehner and other senior lawmakers as saying in a statement issued shortly after Obama's announcement.

The US military strike was expected this weekend, but Obama said Congressional leaders had agreed to schedule a debate upon their return from summer recess on 9 September.

However, Samir Nashar, a top official in the Syrian National Coalition, told AFP that Obama's announcement was received negatively among members of the SNC.

"We had a feeling of disappointment. We were expecting things to be quicker, that a strike would be imminent ... But we believe Congress will approve a strike," Nashar said.

Nashar said the coalition was confident that Arab foreign ministers who meet Sunday in Cairo would give "very strong support" to US-led military action.

"The Turkish position is also very important. Washington needs this support," the Istanbul-based official said.

"The coalition will get in touch with Arab countries and Turkey so that they cooperate as much as possible with the United States," he said.

"We will try to push these countries to take part in the military operation, which will greatly alleviate the suffering of Syrians."

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