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Syria

Advisory body urges Arab League withdrawal from Syria

Reuters/Handout

An Arab League advisory body has urged the immediate withdrawal of the bloc's observers from Syria saying their presence was having no effect on the government's deadly crackdown on protests. 

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The speaker of the Arab Parliament, Salem al-Diqbassi, said the Arab League should "immediately pull out the Arab observers, considering the continued killing of innocent civilians by the Syrian regime."

The call came as the League prepared to send yet more monitors to Syria, after pro-democracy protesters saw the New Year in with demonstrations and a child reportedly became the first fatality of 2012.

Around 20 more observers will head to Damascus from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Tunisia," said Adnan al-Khodeir, the League's Syria operations chief.

Fifty observers arrived last Monday on a month-long mission as part of an Arab deal endorsed by Syria, which calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.

Arab League monitors toured several protest hot spots on Sunday, official media said, as a dispute emerged after one observer reportedly accused authorities of posting snipers on rooftops and demanded they be removed.

In a video released by the Syrian Observatory for Human RightsObservatory, a man wearing an orange vest with the Arab League logo said in Daraa: "There are snipers; we have seen them with our own eyes.

"We ask the authorities to remove them immediately; if they don't remove them within 24 hours, there will be other measures," the unnamed speaker in the video, which was dated Friday, told a crowd of people.

But veteran Sudanese military intelligence officer General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, who heads the observer mission, said the official seen in the video was making a hypothetical remark.

According to the Local Coordination Committees a total of 5,862 people were killed in the regime's crackdown last year, including "321 male children, 74 female children and 146 women."

United Nations estimates in early December put the death toll at more than 5,000.

 

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