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Qatari leader calls for Arab nations to intervene and 'stop the bloodshed in Syria'


A column of smoke rises over Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday after two bomb blasts were reported.

UNITED NATIONS -- Arab nations should intervene in Syria given the U.N. Security Council's failure to stop the civil war in the country, Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said Tuesday.

"The Security Council failed to reach an effective position. In view of this, I think that it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria," Sheik Hamad, speaking through an interpreter, said in a U.N. General Assembly speech.

Western powers have made clear they are opposed to direct intervention and the Security Council will not sanction action against the wishes of Russia and China. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called again for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad but provided no clear direction forward.

The Syrian conflict grinds on. Cities are under attack leaving them crushed by heavy shelling. NBC's Bill Neely reports.

Sheik Hamad suggested that bypassing the U.N. Security Council would enable a peaceful transition of power in Syria.

"We had a similar precedent when Arab forces intervened in Lebanon in the mid-'70s ... to stop internal fighting there in a step that proved to be effective and useful," he added.

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In 1976, an Arab League summit in Cairo authorized the deployment of an Arab peacekeeping force in Lebanon, according to the BBC.

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People resisting the army of President Bashar al-Assad in northern Syria cope with loss and prepare for fighting.

Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, strongly supports the mainly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels, while Shiite Iran backs Assad, whose Alawite minority is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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Sheik Hamad further urged all countries that believe in the cause of the Syrian people to provide "all sorts of support" to Syrians until they gain legitimate rights.

Activists say that 27,000 people have been killed in Syria's uprising, which began as peaceful demonstrations for reform 18 months ago but turned into an armed insurgency fighting to topple Assad, with sectarian overtones that could drag in regional powers.

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Meanwhile, state-run media said two massive explosions targeted the army command headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday, setting off clashes and a huge fire inside the building.


A look back at the violence that has overtaken the country

The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Press TV via EPA file

An undated handout television grab taken from Iran's state-run news network Press TV shows its correspondent Maya Nasser who was killed in Syria Wednesday.

"The Free Army hit the general staff building in Damascus' Umayyad Square and dozens were killed in the two powerful blasts," the information office for the FSA military council said in a statement. Syria's Information Minister Omran Zoabi had earlier said that the blasts caused only material damage.

The army said four guards were killed and 14 wounded in what it said were suicide attacks. No senior officers were hurt in the blasts, which shook the whole city just before the start of the working day, it said.

Iran's Press TV also said Wednesday that one of its correspondents was killed in Syria covering the twin blasts and gun battles in the Damascus.

Machine guns operated by motorcycle brakes? Get a glimpse at the rebels fighting against Assad's forces in Syria's mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya area.

Press TV identified the correspondent as 33-year-old Maya Nasser, a Syrian national.

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Syrian authorities accuse Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of arming the rebels.

In July, Gulf sources told Reuters that Turkey had set up a secret base with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria's rebels.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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