Monday, December 19, 2011

Syria will allow Arab observers in

Update: More than 100 people have been killed in Syria, rights activists said, as the Arab League announced an advance party would be sent to the country this week to pave the way for monitors who will try to help end nine months of violence. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that more than 60 army deserters had been shot dead by machinegun fire as they tried to flee their base, citing accounts from wounded survivors. It also counted 40 civilians shot dead across Syria in the crackdown on protests. 
(End of update)

Syria signed an Arab League initiative Monday that will allow Arab observers into the country, Syria's  final acceptance of it was a response to mounting international pressure.
 Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem told reporters in Damascus that the observers will have a one-month mandate that can be extended by another month if both sides agree. They will be "free" in their movements and "under the protection of the Syrian government," he said, but will not be allowed to visit sensitive military sites.
Walid al Muallem
Last month Syria agreed to an Arab League plan to end the crisis. It called for removing Syrian forces and heavy weapons from city streets, starting talks with opposition leaders and allowing human rights workers and journalists into the country, along with Arab League observers. Despite its agreement, Syria then posed conditions that made implementation impossible.

As the agreement was signed, security forces shot and killed at least three people in the southern province of Daraa and a demonstration in Damascus' central neighborhood of Midan, where a child was wounded, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Three soldiers were also killed in a clash between troops and army defectors in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan, the observatory said. Another activist group said Monday's death toll throughout Syria was 14.

The Arab League had given Syria until Wednesday to sign the agreement, warning that if Damascus did not, the League would likely turn to the UN Security Council for action to try to end the President Bashar Assad's crackdown on the uprising.

Many regime opponents have in the past accused Assad of waffling on the deal as a way to gain time as he continues his crackdown. They expressed skepticism that the regime will cooperate even after signing the initiative.

No comments: