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As thousands protest the Arab League's suspension, embassies evacuated
Tens of thousands of Syria’s supporters gathered Sunday in Damascus to protest the Arab League’s decision to suspend the country’s membership over the government’s violent crackdown on dissenters, the Associated Press reported.
Syria's government called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League on Sunday to address the League's decision, reported the Guardian.
The Arab League invited members of the Syrian opposition to meet in Cairo on Tuesday, reported the Seattle Times.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the purpose of the meeting with opposition leaders would be to "agree a unified vision for the coming transitional period in Syria." The opposition would then meet with the Arab foreign ministers.
If Syria does not relent in its crackdown on protesters, the League will go ahead with the suspension, due to take affect on Wednesday.
The 22-member bloc voted to suspend Syria Saturday after Damascus failed to carry out a peace deal brokered by the league that required the country to end their violence against the opposition, pull military forces out of cities and establish diplomacy with the government opposers.
The League issued a statement the same day of the suspension, threatening President Bashar al-Assad’s government that the League will recognize the opposition Syrian National Council if the violent crackdowns against demonstrators continue.
The UN estimated more than 3,500 people have been killed by Syrian government’s attempt to stifle the eight-month uprising.
Pro-Syrian regime supporters angry over the Arab League’s condemnation took matters into their own hands and attacked several embassies of the countries that have been critical of them, the AP reported. Protesters stormed the embassy compounds of Saudi Arabia and Qatar Saturday night, vandalizing and ransacking the properties.
Protesters also attempted to break into the Turkish embassy, which prompted the Turkish government to send planes to evacuate its diplomatic staff and their families the AP reported. Ambassadors to Syria from Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were recalled amid the embassy attacks.
Despite Syria’s growing isolation from its peers, the Arab League suspension was not a unanimous decision. Yemen, Lebanon and Syria voted against the measure and Iraq, which abstained from the vote, said in a statement Sunday that the suspension will only complicate the situation.
Syrian officials, who called the League’s decision “illegal,” made concessions and called for an Arab summit to broker a deal before the suspension will take effect on Wednesday. Iraq offered Baghdad as the location of the talks if the meeting is approved by the League.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon welcomed Syria's suspension, along with France and the US. The League's decision shows “the increasing diplomatic isolation of a regime that has systematically violated human rights,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement released Saturday.