Assad meets with Arab League ministerial team 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sana Sana)
CAIRO - An advance team from the Arab League arrived in Syria on
Thursday ahead of deploying monitors who will assess whether Damascus is
acting to end a bloody nine-month crackdown on protests against
President Bashar Assad's rule, a League official said.
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arrived in Damascus safely," Waguih Hanafy, a senior aide to Arab League
chief Nabil Elaraby and who is traveling with the team, said by
telephone from the Syrian capital.
Meanwhile, a new report emerged that more than 6,200 people including hundreds of children have died in Syria's crackdown on an anti-government revolt.
The British-based Avaaz rights group said it had collected evidence of more than 6,237 deaths of civilians and security forces, 617 of them under torture. At least 400 of the dead were children, it added.
Cairo, Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa Dabi arrived for talks
at the League headquarters to be briefed on his role in leading the
150-strong observer team that could be sent to Syria before the end of
December, provided preparations go smoothly.
Syria agreed in
November to an Arab plan demanding an end to fighting, the withdrawal of
troops from residential areas, the release of prisoners and the start
of a dialogue with the opposition. It balked for six weeks over letting
In that time, the League imposed economic sanctions
and threatened to escalate the matter to the UN Security Council, while
the death toll has soared as Syria has turned its troops and tanks
It finally signed a protocol on monitors on Monday.
who coordinated between Sudan's government and international
peacekeepers there, told reporters at Cairo airport he would meet League
Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to follow up on arrangements for the
He said observers would work "with complete
transparency to observe the situation in Syria", adding it would hold
continuous meetings in the field with all factions, including the Syrian
army, opposition, security forces and humanitarian groups.
Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told Reuters on Tuesday that 150-strong
observers would demand free access to hospitals, prisons and other
sites across the country.
He also said the team would issue daily
reports that would be shown to but not vetted by the Syrian
authorities. Elaraby said the monitors could be in Syria before the end
The advance team making preparations for the mission is led by top
League official Samir Seif al-Yazal and comprises 11 people, including
financial, administrative and legal experts, officials said.
"During our visit to Syria, we will work on some necessary arrangements
to receive the mission on the ground, such as accommodation, transport,
communications and security," Yazal said shortly before he flew out of
Elaraby said monitors would need no more than a week from arrival to see
whether Syria was abiding by the peace plan. He said 10 four-wheel
drive vehicles were being sent from Iraq to Syria to help out the