Mohammed al-Dabi (center), the Sudanese general who had led an Arab observer mission to Syria, offered his resignation on Sunday.
Al-Qaida's chief Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims from other countries to support rebels in Syria seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad, saying they cannot depend on the West for help.
Meanwhile, the Arab League accepted the resignation of the Sudanese general who had led an Arab monitoring mission to Syria, and proposed appointing a former Jordanian foreign minister as a special envoy for the Syrian crisis, Egypt's state news agency reported on Sunday. Arab ministers were meeting in Cairo to discuss efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria after Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed Arab League peace plan at the U.N. Security Council.
Al-Zawahri, in a videotaped statement released late Saturday, asked Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against Assad's "pernicious, cancerous regime." All four states border Syria.
Egyptian-born al-Zawahri took over al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden was killed last May by a U.S. special forces raid on his hideout in Pakistan.
Anonymous / AP
This frame grabbed image from video provided by the SITE Intel Group, an American private terrorist threat analysis company, purports to show al-Qaida's leader Ayman al-Zawahri in a still image from a web posting by al-Qaida's media arm, as-Sahab, on Sunday.
A senior Iraqi security official also told the Associated Press on Saturday that intelligence over the last four months has revealed a flow of al-Qaida-linked fighters from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul into Syria.
"There is no treatment for (the Assad regime) other than removal," al-Zawahri says in the eight-minute video posted on jihadist websites, according to U.S.-based SITE Intel Group, which monitors militant messages.
"Don't depend on the West and Turkey, which had deals, mutual understanding and sharing with this regime for decades and only began to abandon it after they saw it faltering," he said. "Instead, depend on Allah alone and then on your sacrifices, resistance, and steadfastness."
The Syrian government pushes ahead with its military crackdown while mourners gather daily to mark the passing of new victims. NBC News' Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Cairo.
He urged Syrians to oppose help from the Arab League and "its corrupt agent governments." The League has put forth a plan to try to end violence in Syria but it suspended an observers mission to the country after the regime flouted its agreement to the terms of the plan.
Arab ministers meet
Abdel Elah al-Khatib, the former Jordanian minister and U.N. envoy to Libya, was proposed as the special envoy to Syria by Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby during an Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo, the agency reported. He also accepted the resignation of Mohammed al-Dabi, the Sudanese general who had led an Arab observer mission to Syria and offered his resignation to ministers meeting on Sunday.
A Syrian opposition official said Gulf ministers would discuss a proposal to recognize the opposition Syrian National Council, a move that would further isolate Assad. League officials said such an idea was not formally on the agenda but could be raised during talks.
The Russian and Chinese veto at the Security Council drew criticism from Arab states which had sought U.N. backing for an initiative that called on Assad to step aside and hand powers to a deputy as part of a political transition to democracy.
The Arab drive to isolate Syria has been led by Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Gulf Arab ministers began talks in Cairo on Sunday ahead of broader Arab ministerial meetings later in the day.
Gulf states announced last week that they were recalling their ambassadors from Syria and expelling Syria's envoys. Libya and Tunisia, both countries where popular revolts toppled authoritarian rulers last year, have taken similar steps.
"There are Gulf states that will propose recognizing the Syrian National Council as the representative of the Syrian people during the meeting of ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (on Sunday) in Cairo," said Abdel Baset Seda, a member of the SBC's executive committee, told Reuters in Cairo.
Abdel Baset, who has been meeting Arab ministers and officials, said ministers were also expected to discuss proposals for a "Friends of Syria" contact group of Arab, Western and other countries to press for action over Syria.
The plan was proposed by France and the United States after Russia and China blocked the Security Council resolution.
Diplomats at the United Nations said Saudi Arabia had circulated a new draft resolution backing the Arab plan for the General Assembly rather than the Security Council to consider. Assembly resolutions are non-binding but cannot be vetoed.
However, Riyadh denied on Sunday reports that it had formally presented the resolution to the assembly.
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Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.