Syrian activists say troop withdrawal is a sham

By REUTERS
January 5, 2012 04:35

 
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BEIRUT - Opposition activists say Syrian authorities are breaking their promises to withdraw troops from the streets of strife-torn towns, contradicting statements by Arab League peace monitors that government forces have pulled back.

An Arab League mission arrived in Syria last week to verify whether the government was implementing a peace plan under which it agreed to scale back its military presence and free thousands of prisoners detained since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began last March.

League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said in Cairo on Monday the monitors had reported back that state forces had withdrawn from residential areas. The mission was ensuring a halt to bloodshed and had secured the release of about 3,500 prisoners, he said.

"We are not seeing the release of detainees or the true removal of a military presence from the streets," said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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