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Monitors have tough road in Syria

Jan. 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The task for Arab monitors on the ground in Syria is getting more difficult by the day, the foreign minister for the United Arab Emirates said.

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said apparent attacks on members of the monitoring team from the Arab League are problematic for Damascus.

"The job of the observers is getting more difficult day after day," he was quoted by al-Arabiya as saying. "We do not see a commitment from the Syrian side that would allow them" to work.

Damascus had agreed to let the Arab team in the country to verify compliance with earlier agreements reached in Cairo to pull military forces from the streets. Critics of the Syrian government accuse Damascus of monitoring the Arab team's movements.

Close to a dozen members of the Arab team were wounded in the country Tuesday, the same day Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a national address, promised to go after "terrorists with an iron fist."

The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 people were killed since the uprising against Assad's government began in mid-March. Assad, during his speech, blamed "foreign planning" for the unrest.

Basma Qadmani, a member of the Syrian National Council, was quoted by the Arab broadcaster as saying Assad's speech did nothing for peace.

"There is incitement to violence, incitement to civil strife, some talks about sectarian divisions which the regime itself has fomented and encouraged," he said.

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