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Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 25, 2012.MIKE SEGAR/Reuters

The emir of Qatar, a key backer of the Syrian opposition, on Tuesday called for an Arab military intervention in Syria to halt the conflict.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani told the UN General Assembly: "It is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed."

The emir cited the precedent of an Arab intervention force sent to Lebanon in 1976 in a bid to halt that country's civil war. He said it was "a step that proved to be effective and useful."

The Qatar leader is a fierce critic of President Bashar al-Assad whose government has accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of arming Syrian rebels.

Mr. Al-Thani said the 18-month old Syrian conflict "has reached an unacceptable phase" with a government "that does not hesitate to use all sorts of weapons against its people."

He said intervention was needed because all efforts to "get Syria out of the cycle of killing" had been in vain and the UN Security Council has "failed" to take a stand.