Cairo: Arab foreign ministers agreed on Monday to back the Syrian opposition and called for a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping mission in Syria, after their meeting in Cairo.

They also announced the end of an observer mission that was sent to monitor violence in the conflict-stricken country.

Arab diplomats said, "will open channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and offer full political and financial support, urging (the opposition) to unify its ranks."

They will "ask the UN Security Council to issue a decision on the formation of a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping force to oversee the implementation of a ceasefire."

The Arab ministers have called for a “halt to all kinds of diplomatic cooperation with representatives of the Syrian regime in all states and organisations and international conferences," but will leave it to each country to implement that decision.

And they welcomed a call from Tunisia to hold a meeting on Syria in Tunis on February 24, according to the draft.

In the statement, they also stressed "the implementation of economic sanctions and an end to commercial relations with the Syrian regime, except in what concerns the Syrian people directly."

The ministers were in Cairo to mull their next move on Syria's deadly 11-month crackdown which has left thousands dead.

Arab diplomats were holding marathon talks that began with a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, followed by the Arab League committee on Syria.

Earlier, an Arab League official said that Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi was due to officially hand in his resignation at the foreign ministers' meeting.