Syria: Arab monitor pullout aims to influence UN

Continued violence leads Arab league to "immediately stop" monitoring mission, though it will remain in Syria.

January 28, 2012 20:57
2 minute read.
Arab League headquarters in Cairo

Arab League headquarters in Cairo 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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BEIRUT - Syria said the Arab League's suspension of its monitoring mission in the country was an attempt to influence the United Nations Security Council and increase pressure for foreign intervention, state television said on Saturday.

"This will have a negative impact and put pressure on (Security Council) deliberations with the aim of calling for foreign intervention and encouraging armed groups to increase violence," a news flash on Syria Television said.

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"Syria is still committed to the success of the Arab monitoring mission and to protecting the mission observers," the news flash said.

The Arab League said on Saturday it suspended its mission due to rising violence in Syria, which is trying to crush a 10-month revolt against President Bashar Assad's rule. The League called on Assad to step down last week and is meeting with the Security Council in the coming days to discuss an Arab peace plan.

"Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence ... it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria pending pretension of the issue to the league's council," the league's secretary-general said in a statement.

"The secretary-general has also asked the head of the mission to take all the necessary procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of the mission's members."

The mission would remain in Syria, a source at the league had earlier told Reuters, but would temporarily halt its work.

Arabs, Western countries want UNSC resolution on Syria death toll

The Arab League and Western countries are pushing for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, where the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in protests against the rule of President Bashar Assad which began in March.

The UN Security Council discussed a draft European-Arab resolution on Friday aimed at halting the bloodshed. Russia, which joined China in vetoing a previous resolution in October, said the draft was unacceptable in its present form, but said it was willing to "engage" on it.

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A date for the meeting of the league's council on Syria had not yet been set, a delegate at the league said. On Saturday, activists said the bodies of 17 men arrested by Assad's forces during an armored assault this week on the city of Hama were found dumped in the streets after being shot in the head.

The reported killings mark an escalation in a five-month military crackdown on Hama, 240 km (150 miles) north of Damascus, where armed rebels are now backing protesters after tanks stormed the conservative Sunni Muslim city in August.

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