Arab League chief fears Syria civil war

"Any problems in Syria will have consequences for the neighboring states," Elaraby warns in Al-Hayat interview.

By REUTERS
January 13, 2012 05:24
1 minute read.
Soldiers who defected to Free Syria Army [file]

Syrian army defectors 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BEIRUT - Arab League head Nabil Elaraby said on Friday he feared a possible civil war in Syria that could have consequences for neighboring countries, as the credibility of the League's monitoring mission was hit by members starting to walk out.

An Algerian former monitor said several monitors had left Syria or might do so soon because the mission had failed to halt President Bashar Assad's violent crackdown on a popular revolt against his rule.

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"Yes I fear a civil war and the events that we see and hear about now could lead to a civil war," said Elaraby, whose body deployed the monitors on Dec. 26 to check whether Syria was respecting an Arab peace plan.

"Any problems in Syria will have consequences for the neighboring states," he said in an interview with the Egyptian Al-Hayat television channel.

He described reports from the mission head as "worrying", but said there was "no doubt that the pace of killing has fallen with the presence of the observers".

Syrian opposition groups say the monitors, due to present their findings to the Arab League's foreign ministers on Jan. 19-20, have only bought Assad more time to crush protests that erupted in March, inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere.



"(The ministers) will decide whether there is any benefit in continuing or not," said Elaraby.

The monitors resumed work on Thursday, a League official said, for the first time since 11 were injured by pro-Assad demonstrators in the port of Latakia three days previously, an attack that also sidelined plans to expand the team.

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