CAIRO, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said Thursday Syrian President Bashar Assad can avoid foreign intervention if he cooperates with regional leaders.
"The Syrian government is not complying with the Arab initiative plan and their inability to stop the violence is what led to the escalation of the procedures of the sanctions against it," el-Araby said in a written statement. He said Assad can "avoid the dangers of a foreign intervention" if he accepts the league's plan to end the civil conflict, CNN reported.
The Syrian Arab News Agency reported Thursday Syrian authorities killed five armed men during fighting with "terrorist members" outside Hama; 35 others were arrested and a "large number of stolen cars with fake number plates" were seized, SANA said.
Nineteen Arab League nations imposed economic sanctions on Syria this week in an attempt to stem the violence that has claimed at least 4,000 lives since March. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday the number of dead may be much higher.
The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday added sanctions on Mohammad Makhlouf, Assad's uncle, and Aus Aslan, a Syrian general.
"It has never been more critical to escalate pressure on the Syrian government to immediately cease all violence against its own people and isolate the regime from the international financial system," Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said. "We will continue to work closely with our partners in Europe and around the world to hasten a transition to democracy in Syria."
The U.N. Human Rights Council scheduled a meeting Friday in Switzerland to discuss the situation.