Arab League extends Syria mission by 1 month

Mission to gain additional monitors, resources; support for military intervention scant despite continued killing.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
January 22, 2012 17:27
2 minute read.
Arab League monitors in Syria

Arab League monitors in Syria 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/via Reuters Tv/Handout)

 
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The Arab League extended its monitoring mission in Syria by one month on Sunday, the BBC reported. The League also decided to add more monitoring members to the mission and to provide them with additional resources, according to the report.

Hundreds of Syrians have been killed since the monitoring mission began its work in late December and political opponents of President Bashar Assad are demanding the League refer Syria to the United Nations Security Council.

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The foreign ministers met Sunday to debate the findings of the month-long monitoring mission, whose mandate expired on Thursday, to decide whether to extend, withdraw or strengthen it.

Arab states had been divided over how to handle the crisis in Syria and critics say the monitoring mission is handing Assad more time to kill opponents of his rule.

Some wanted to crank up pressure on Assad to end a 10-month-old crackdown on a popular revolt in which, according to the United Nations, more than 5,000 people have died.

Others worry that weakening Assad could tip Syria, with its potent mix of religious and ethnic allegiances, into a deeper conflict that would destabilize the entire region, and some may fear the threat from their own populations if he were toppled.



The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) says the observers lack the resources and clout to truly judge Assad's compliance with an Arab peace plan that Syria signed up to in November and has called upon the Arab League to refer the Syrian crisis to the United Nations Security Council.

But Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia told the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, that they would oppose such a move, a League source said on Sunday.

"The three states support solving the Syrian crisis inside the Arab League," the source told Reuters.

The head of the monitoring effort, Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, was presenting his findings to the League's Syria committee.

Syrian opposition activists said Assad's forces killed 35 civilians on Saturday and 30 unidentified corpses were found at a hospital in Idlib. The state news agency SANA said bombs killed at least 14 prisoners and two security personnel in a security vehicle in Idlib province.

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