Arab League joins call for UN action against 'heinous' Assad

The 22-member Arab League on Tuesday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of using chemical weapons in Syria and called on the United Nations to take action.

The group issued a strongly worded statement amid increasing signs that the Obama administration and other western governments are preparing to strike against Syria. 

The statement, reportedly pushed by Assad foes Saudi Arabia and Qatar, denounces a “heinous crime” and calls on the U.N. Security Council members to come together and “bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The statement offers Obama some politically crucial support from Muslim countries as he weighs a military response to the allegations that Assad's forces used poison gas to kill more than 1,300 people in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last week. The League's endorsement of a no-fly zone in Libya in March 2011 preceded by a week the U.S.-backed operations against former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The Arab League turned against Assad long ago.

It expelled his regime from the organization in November 2011, eight months after the uprising began.

And in March of this year, the League recognized the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. During an emergency meeting in Doha on the second anniversary of the uprising, the group also agreed that member states had the right to arm rebel factions battling Assad.

Tuesday's vote exposed several rifts.

Lebanon, which is home to the Hezbollah organization fighting alongside Assad, refused to vote, Al Jazeera reports. And Iraq and Algeria both had reservations about condemning Assad before a UN probe is completed.

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