US skeptical of Syrian agreement on monitors

Syrian opposition says 114 killed, among them 80 army defectors; warplanes strike targets in Homs, Al Jazeera reports.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 19, 2011 23:51
2 minute read.
Syrian protesters in Damascus

Syrian protesters in Damascus_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

The United States Monday reacted skeptically to Syria's agreement to allow an Arab state to monitor Syrian compliance with an Arab League peace agreement designed to stop the violence in the country.

Human rights activists said more than 70 people were killed on Monday in Syria, where an estimated 5,000 people have died during a nine-month confrontation between the security forces and protesters opposed to the Assad family's 41-year rule.

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Opposition activists put the number of dead at 114 people, Al Jazeera reported. According to the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a coalition of 40 opposition groups, 80 army defectors were among the dead.

Syrian warplanes struck targets in Homs, where six people were killed Monday, an opposition source told Al Jazeera.


US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States wanted to see Syria carry through with the Arab League peace plan, saying Syrian officials had failed to keep agreements too often in the past to be taken at their word.

"We have seen too many broken promises from the Syrian regime," she told reporters. "So we are really less interested in a signed piece of paper than we are in actions to implement commitments made."

Nuland said Washington backed the Arab League plan, which includes Syria giving human rights monitors unfettered access, ending violence by its security forces, releasing political prisoners and withdrawing security forces from populated areas.



"So it's on that basis that we will judge the seriousness of the Syrian regime with regard to its apparent acquiescence to the Arab League's proposal," she said.

The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to the peace plan after facing sanctions and threats from the Arab League that it would take the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

The Syrian opposition dismissed the agreement as a new stalling tactic and called instead for military intervention to stop Syria's crackdown on a 9-month-old anti-government protest movement.

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