Arab League Will Offer 'Safe Exit' To Syrian President Assad If He Resigns Quickly

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Assad Vote
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma vote during a referendum on a new constitution at a polling station in a Syrian TV station building in Damascus February 26, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.

The Arab League has offered a safe exit for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family if he quickly resigns and leaves the country, in the latest attempt from the international community to end 17 months of bloodshed in Syria.

Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby declined to reveal the details of the proposal at an Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Doha, Qatar, Monday morning.

The League called on the Syrian opposition to form a transitional government and promised $100 million for the Syrian refugees who have fled to the neighboring countries.

Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki offered Assad asylum in February while the Arab leaders extended the offer back in November, but both failed to evoke any positive response from the Syrian president.

Meanwhile, Moscow reiterated its earlier stance that Russia was not planning to provide asylum to Assad and denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama had discussed a potential destination for Assad if he decided to step down.

They did not discuss any destination, Putin aide Yury Ushakov said Friday. The two presidents spoke Wednesday, hours after the death of Syria's top officials in a bombing in Damascus.

Despite the League's offer, fighting continued in Syria Monday, as the regime forces recaptured parts of Damascus, the suburbs of Barzeh and Mezzeh, which had fallen into rebel hands.  Violence was also reported in Syria's second city Aleppo.

At least 11 people were killed in the violence Monday morning, the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LLC) of Syria said.

In Homs, two people were killed due to intense shelling by helicopters and rocket launchers, accompanied by intense clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the regime army, the group said.

Damascus and Aleppo witnessed heavy fighting Sunday, which left 59 people dead while the death toll across Syria rose up to 111 in Sunday's violence.

The head of the rebel Free Syrian Army in Aleppo announced Sunday an operation to liberate the city of Aleppo from the rule of the Assad thugs, whose hands were blood-stained by heinous crimes against our people.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 1,261 people had been killed across Syria since July 15, making the past week the bloodiest since the beginning of the uprising.

The death toll, according to the opposition LLC, is more than 16,000 while the U.N. estimate limits the deaths to 10,000.

Meanwhile, Moscow dismissed the international criticism for its 3rd veto of a U.N. Security Council draft resolution on Syria Thursday that would have imposed massive sanctions on the Syrian regime.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the U.N. resolution placed unrealistic demands on the regime and put no pressure on the opposition.

Instead of making crude insinuations about Russian policy ... our Western partners should at least do something to encourage the militant opposition to step onto the path of a political settlement, Lukashevich was quoted as saying by the Moscow Times.

Russia and China Thursday blocked the U.N. action against Syria for the third time in nine months, drawing criticism from Washington which termed the veto highly regrettable.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the veto would have repercussions for the countries that vetoed the resolution for a long time, in terms of how they're viewed by the Syrian people.

There's no doubt that Syria's future will not include Bashar al-Assad. His days in power are numbered, Carney said, as reported by the AFP.

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