Cairo: The Arab League on Sunday called on the Syrian authorities to "immediately" stop the violence that has rocked the country since mid-March, in the pan-Arab body's first official statement on the unrest.
 
League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi "calls on the Syrian authorities to bring an end immediately to acts of violence and campaigns by the security forces against civilians," said in a statement.
 
It said Arabi expressed his "increasing concern" because of "the deterioration of the security situation in Syria following the rise in violence and military operations in Hama, Deir Ezzor and several regions." 
 
The Arab League chief met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on July 13 on "developments in Syria," Syrian state television said.
 
Arabi at the time told reporters the league "rejects any interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries and nobody can withdraw the legitimacy of a leader because it is up to the people to decide." 
 
He also underlined that Syria's stability was essential for other Arab countries.

(Agencies)