15 Jan 2012

Qatar urges Arab troops in Syria

4:59 am on 15 January 2012

The ruler of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar says Arab countries should send troops into Syria to stop government forces from killing civilians there.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is the first Arab leader to publicly call for military intervention in Syria.

Interviewed on 60 Minutes on CBS in the United States, Sheikh Hamad was asked if he was in favour of Arab nations intervening in Syria.

''For such a situation to stop the killing ... some troops should go to stop the killing,'' he said, in the programme to be broadcast on Sunday.

The Arab League sent 165 observers to Syria to monitor compliance with a peace plan, but members have expressed doubts as to the mission's efficacy.

The BBC reports one of the observers resigned last week, calling the mission a farce because of impediments by the Syrian government.

The league has said it may refer Syria to the UN Security Council if the monitors' report is negative.

China and Russia have so far blocked any UN action on Syria.

The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Araby, said on Friday he feared Syria was sliding into a full-scale civil war.

Qatar was also the first Arab country to join the NATO operation in Libya, which led to the downfall of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

It has also led regional criticism of the crackdowns on protesters in Syria by the President Bashar al-Assad and in Yemen by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.