The Arab League's peace mission to Syria was on the verge of collapsing today after Gulf states followed Saudi Arabia in pulling out.
The Gulf Co-operation Council, which represents Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Gulf monarchies, said it was convinced that "the bloodshed and the killing of innocent people there is continuing".
Its decision furthers the growing international divide over Syria between Western-supporting states and a loose anti-western coalition involving Iran, Syria's closest ally, but also Russia, Lebanon, Algeria and Iraq, who have opposed action against Damascus.
Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said the government was considering whether to allow the mission to continue - something it had previously indicated it would accept. He said Syria now "rejected" Arab solutions to its internal crisis, after the League on Sunday demanded President Bashar al-Assad accept a unity government with the opposition followed by free elections within six months.
He claimed the League had deliberately put forward a peace plan it knew would be rejected by Damascus as a pretext to "internationalise" the situation, adding that "half the universe" was involved in a plot against the country.
"It is the duty of the Syrian government to take what it sees as necessary measures to deal with those armed groups that spread chaos," he said, suggesting that Mr Assad now sees himself as in a fight to the death with the opposition, with no compromise possible.
Following its meeting on Sunday and its ultimatum to Mr Assad to reform, the League will take its proposal to the United Nations later today. The secretary-general, and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, the prime minister of Qatar who oversees the League's committee on Syria, formally asked to meet Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general.