Large crowds have rallied across the country in support of President Bashar Assad a day after the Arab League threatened to suspend Syria from the organisation in the wake of anti-regime protests.
In Damascus, Mr. Assad's supporters demonstrated in strength, holding aloft the embattled President's pictures and raising slogans in his praise.
The outpouring of tens of thousands of pro-regime backers followed the Arab League's emergency session in Cairo on Saturday, where the regional grouping served Damascus a suspension notice. Syria was asked to comply by November 16 with an earlier deal that had been struck with the League. The agreement had called for an end to violence, release of prisoners and the starting of a dialogue with the opposition. But on Saturday, the League warned that it would report Syria to the U.N. and consider withdrawal of Ambassadors as well as imposition of sanctions, if bloodshed did not end.
Piqued by the League's harsh stand, the Syrian Ambassador slammed the decision as illegal and a breach of the organisation's charter. He asserted that by taking the decision against Syria, the League had served a “Western and American agenda”.
Eighteen member states of the Arab League — which is chaired by Qatar — voted in favour of Syria's suspension. Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the move, while Iraq abstained.
Unsurprisingly, the fury of Mr. Assad's supporters has targeted Qatar and Saudi Arabia — two pro-west petro-monarchies that played a high-profile role in Saturday's meeting. The President's supporters forced their way into the Qatari embassy. They climbed the top of the building, removed the Qatari flag and replaced it with a Syrian one.
The Saudi embassy was also stormed.
Reuters is reporting that the French and Turkish consulates in the city of Latakia have also been targeted.
Later on Sunday, the storming of the Saudi Arabian embassy had inflamed a full-blown diplomatic row between Damascus and Riyadh. “Syrian authorities did not carry out the necessary measures to stop” the demonstrators, the state-run SPA quoted the Saudi Foreign Ministry as saying.
“The Saudi government strongly condemns this incident and holds the Syrian authorities responsible for the security and protection of all Saudi interests in Syria,” said the Ministry.