Members of the Arab League have decided to suspend Syria's involvement in the group until President Bashar al-Assad's government implements an already agreed upon peace plan to end its violent crackdown on protests.
Qatari Prime Minister and Arab League Chairman Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told reporters Saturday that Syria retains its membership in the 22-member group, but it must remove its forces from the streets, begin talks with the opposition and release political prisoners.
Mr. Thani also said the league was calling on all Arab states to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria and consider economic sanctions on the country.
The Arab League met Saturday in an emergency meeting in Cairo to reach its decision. Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the resolution and Iraq abstained.
Syria's ambassador Youssef Ahmed called Saturday's decision “illegal” and contrary to the league's internal charter. He said his government remains committed to the peace plan brokered with the league earlier this month.
Violence in Syria has continued in recent days with activists claiming that Syrian security forces killed 26 people on Friday.
Alongside the government's ongoing crackdown, international human rights groups and opposition activists urged the Arab League to suspend Syria's membership.
The U.N. human rights office says at least 3,500 people have been killed in Syria in connection with anti-Assad protests, which have been under way since March. Syria has blamed much of the deadly violence on “terrorists” and gunmen.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said Saturday they will approach the United Nations on the issue of human rights in Syria. However, the league does not wish to see foreign intervention in Syria.