Arab League to keep Syria mission

Jan. 8, 2012 at 7:54 PM
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CAIRO, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Arab League officials, meeting in Cairo Sunday, again called on Syria's government to end the violence against its people and said monitoring would increase.

The ministers said the league would press its ongoing mission despite critics who say it has been ineffective in stopping civilian deaths, the BBC reported.

About 5,000 civilians have been killed since protests began against President Bashar Assad 10 months ago, the United Nations said. The BBC reported 20 deaths Sunday, and more than 100 during the past three days in the government crackdown against protesters.

The Arab League mission has been in Syria since late December.

The Los Angeles Times reported members of the opposition group Syrian National Council and others have urged the league to concede it has been ineffective and to ask the U.N. Security Council to intercede. The newspaper said the advisory Arab Parliament also has called the league's effort a failure and urged the immediate withdrawal of the observers.

Qatar's prime minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, expressed hope the observers would be successful but told reporters "this mission won't last forever," the Times said.

"If the killings continue, then the mission's presence will be useless," he said.

Syrian officials blame the ongoing civil unrest on foreign-backed armed terrorists, who they say have killed more than 2,000 security force members.

Voice of America reported Hamad, who also serves as Qatar's foreign minister, said the monitoring mission has a general timeline in mind for marking discernible progress.

"But I do not think it is wise to announce this date," he said. "We do not want to threaten anybody. We are trying to cooperate with everybody, until we achieve peace in Syria, which up until now we are not satisfied [about] and I cannot see it."

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