Damascus: Pressure mounted on the Arab League on Saturday to seek UN intervention in the face of growing exasperation that the bloc's hard-won observer mission in Syria has failed to staunch 10 months of killing.
The widely criticised League mission hangs in the balance as its head, General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, prepares to report to Arab foreign ministers, who are to meet on Sunday to discuss the next step.
Human Rights Watch said the observers' presence had failed to rein in the regime's crackdown, with activists reporting 506 civilians killed and another 490 detained since the monitors deployed on December 26.
It urged the regional bloc "to publicly recognise that Syria has not respected the League's plan and work with the Security Council to increase pressure on the authorities and effectively curtail the use of fire power."
The head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghaliun, headed to Cairo to lobby Arab ministers to refer the observer mission's findings to the UN Security Council for tough action.
Ghaliun planned to ask the League "to transfer the file on Syria to the UN Security Council with a view to securing a decision to establish a buffer zone and a no-fly zone" in
Syria, an SNC statement said.
The SNC said it would demand that Dabi pull no punches in his findings on Damascus's compliance with the Arab League agreement.
"The SNC delegation will insist that the report contain a clear text concerning the 'genocide' and 'war crimes' carried out by the (Syrian) regime against unarmed civilians," the statement said.
An SNC spokesman said in Cairo that the group is "preparing a counter report" to the one Dabi is due to submit to the pan-Arab body.
Mohammed Sermini said the SNC report would cover the situation in Syria during the month-long mission of the Arab observers.
Meanwhile, Ahmad el-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, urged "Arab rulers to take the necessary measures to halt bloodshed in Syria," the state news agency reported.
And Syrian protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy in Cairo to vent their anger over Moscow's support for President Bashar al-Assad's regime, a correspondent said.
A tough Security Council resolution on Syria has been blocked by veto-wielding permanent members China and Russia.