Some Syrian anti-government groups have called on the west to defend them as fighting between security forces and armed protesters continues to escalate â€“ however a war like the one that will end in Libya on Monday is doubtful.
The UN security council would have to approve any operation in Syria â€“ a step which would be unlikely given Chinese and Russian opposition. “We would need a clear mandate from the international community, as well as support from the Arab League and Syria’s neighbours,” a NATO official said, adding that so far “no-one had asked” for NATO’s help.
NATO’s reluctance to get embroiled in Syria’s internal conflict came as Assad warned that outside intervention in his country’s affairs could lead to “another Afghanistan.”
On Sunday, a Syrian delegation met in Doha with an Arab League ministerial committee. On 16 October the league gave Damascus a 15-day deadline to put in place a ceasefire, that is over on Sunday. Since then 343 people have been killed, including 40 last Friday, one of the worst days of bloodshed since the uprising began.
Protests have intensified amidst events in the Arab world: the brutal death of Muammar Gaddafi, and Tunisia’s successful democratic elections last week. In a show of support for Assad’s regime on Sunday thousands of Syrians carrying the national flag rallied in Sweida, a city 70 miles south of Damascus.
The situation in Syria is at the top of the international agenda. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, said the latest civilian killings were alarming and called for Assad to carry out “far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence.”