January 15, 2012 / 12:55 PM / 8 years ago

No plan to send Arab troops to Syria: League source

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League has not received any official request or suggestion that it send Arab troops to Syria, an Arab representative to the Cairo-based League told Reuters on Sunday.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, said on Saturday that Arab troops may have to step in to halt the bloodshed in Syria since the start of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in March.

“There is no official suggestion to send Arab troops to Syria at the current time ... There has been no Arab or a non-Arab agreement on a military intervention in Syria for the time being,” the representative to the League said.

There is little appetite in the West for any Libya-style intervention in Syria, although France has talked of a need to set up zones to protect civilians there.

It was far from clear if Arab countries would be willing to beef up the team of civilian monitors currently in Syria, let alone send in troops without broader international support.

It was also not clear if Qatar envisaged the troops playing a peace enforcement or other role. An earlier idea of asking the United Nations to provide technical support and experts to bolster the Arab monitoring team has so far made little headway.

The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since protests against Assad erupted in March. Syrian officials say 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed by armed “terrorists.”

The Arab League has suggested a peace plan that requires an immediate halt of violence and withdrawal of military forces from cities and has been sending monitors from different Arab states to check if Assad’s regime is committed to the Arab plan.

But both Arab monitors who have travelled to Syria and sources in the Arab League say violence has continued unabated and have voiced concerns about the efficacy of the mission in its current form.

Qatar has been the most outspoken among Arab countries about the need for tougher action on Syria. Some other Arab states including Syria’s neighbors Lebanon and Iraq, oppose any escalation against Assad’s government.

Reporting by Ayman Samir; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Lin Noueihed

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