DAMASCUS - Arab leaders called for UN action on Saturday as at least 27 people were killed in Syria amid growing global concern that Kofi Annan’s peace plan is failing and the country descending into civil war. The Arab League’s ministerial committee on Syria, meanwhile, called on UN-Arab League envoy Annan to set a time frame for his mission. “We request Mr Annan to set a time frame for his mission because it is unacceptable that massacres and bloodshed continue while the mission is ongoing indefinitely,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani told a meeting of the committee in Doha, attended by Annan. “We demand the UN Security Council refer the six-point (Annan plan) to Chapter VII so that the international community could assume responsibilities,” he added, without elaborating. Chapter VII outlines action the Security Council might take, including military force, in response to threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. Earlier, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said he had asked the Security Council to take strong action to protect civilians in Syria but did not raise the question of intervention. “I sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking it to undertake all necessary measures to protect the Syrian people,” Arabi told AFP shortly before the opening of the Doha meeting. But asked if he had called for armed action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Arabi said: “I have not referred to military intervention.” On the ground, Syrian troops conducted raids in search of anti-regime militants and clashed with rebels in several regions, with at least 27 people killed, including 15 soldiers, 11 civilians and one rebel, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Tensions spilled over into neighbouring Lebanon, as clashes between pro- and anti-Damascus gunmen killed two people and wounded 20 others in the northern city of Tripoli, a security source told AFP.