Monitors accused of allowing Syrian regime to continue crackdown
CAIRO - An Arab League advisory body called on Sunday for the immediate withdrawal of an observer mission in Syria saying the deadly crackdown on protest continues despite the presence of monitors.
The speaker of the Arab parliament, Salem al-Diqbassi, urged Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to "immediately pull out the Arab observers, considering the continued killing of innocent civilians by the Syrian regime."
Damascus's actions are "a clear violation of the Arab League protocol which is to protect the Syrian people," Diqbassi said in a statement.
"We are seeing an increase in violence, more people are being killed including children ... and all this in the presence of Arab League monitors, which has angered the Arab people," he said.
The Arab Parliament is an 88-member advisory committee made up of parliamentarians from each of the League's member states.
Diqbassi's comments came as the Arab League prepares to send a new team to Syria on Thursday.
"Around 20 more observers will head to Damascus from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Tunisia," said Adnan al-Khodeir, Arab League's Syria operations chief.
A first team of 50 observers arrived on Monday as part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria on November 2, which calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.
The mission has already been the focus of controversy, with some Syrian opposition members unhappy with the choice of veteran Sudanese military intelligence officer General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi as head of the mission.
The general ruffled opposition feathers by saying Syrian authorities were so far cooperating with the mission and by describing his visit to the flashpoint city of Homs, where hundreds have been killed, as "good."
Rights activists have urged the Arab monitors to do more to protect civilians from regime forces.
The UN estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the regime's crackdown on dissent since March. Assad's government insists the violence has been instigated by "terrorist armed gangs" with foreign help.