Bashar Assad Jan. 11, 2012 (AFP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech during a rare public appearance in Damascus on January 11, 2012. Photo by AFP
Text size

Syria on Monday rejected Arab League demands for Bashar Assad to step down in favour of an interim national unity government.

State television quoted an unnamed government source as calling the resolution "flagrant interference" in internal affairs.

"Syria rejects the decision which it considers as an attack on its sovereignty and unity," the official said, calling on the Arab League to stop "the financing and arming of terrorists."

In the Syrian opposition also expressed their opposition to the Arab League recommendations, claiming that the Arab League capitulating to Assad's regime.

According to them, these initiatives will enable the regime to stay killing and repressing activists. In a statement published on Monday, members of the opposition said that they want the Syrian case to be dealt with by the UN Security Council, and not to give Assad any more time. 

The 22-state league's foreign ministers on Sunday also demanded the government call early elections.

Meanwhile, members of the Syrian Free Army, a group of military defectors who joined the opposition, killed five regular army soldiers Monday in clashes in the flashpoint central province of Homs, a rights group said.

"Five soldiers of Syria's regular army were killed and 13 others wounded in a clash at a checkpoint in the village of al-Ziraa," the London-based Syrian observatory for Human Rights said in statement.

The latest diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime, led by Qatar's prime minister, seeks to ease the civil conflict in Syria with an interim administration including opposition leaders to be installed within two months.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said the plan was similar to the one imposed recently in Yemen.

The proposal includes an election for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, to be put to a referendum.

The Arab League also extended the mandate of an observer mission in Syria by another month.

The UN estimates that 5,400 people have been killed in clashes between government troops and protesters demanding the ouster of Assad's regime since mid-March.