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Deaths in Syria hours before observer visit
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 513 days ago | Monday, 26th December , 2011 , 16:45 [pm] | International
|.|| The first group of about Arab League 30 monitors is expected to arrive in Syria “within hours”, amid fresh claims of deaths as part of an ongoing security crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
Activists said at least 19 people were killed on Monday
The first group of about Arab League 30 monitors is expected to arrive in Syria “within hours”, amid fresh claims of deaths as part of an ongoing security crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
Activists said at least 19 people were killed on Monday around the country, 18 of them in the besieged central city of Homs.
The Arab League’s monitoring team, led by Sudanese General Mustafa Dabi, will start its mission in Syria by visiting Homs on Tuesday, a source told the Reuters news agency.
The plan seeks to put an end to the government’s crackdown, which the UN estimates has killed more than 5,000 people since March.
The team is due to visit the capital Damascus, Hama and Idlib on Tuesday, the source said.
The delegation expects “to be able to move freely between hospital, prisons and detention centres all over Syria”.
An advance team of monitors arrived in Damascus on Thursday to pave the way for the observer mission to oversee the peace plan.
Earlier, the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) appealed for the Arab League to immediately send observers to Homs and other areas where the Syrian government has used military force to stamp out dissent.
Homs has been a focal point of the Assad government’s crackdown on nine months of anti-government demonstrations, as well as the site of fierce clashes between the army and former soldiers.
“The Syrian National Council demands that the Arab League observers go to Homs immediately, specifically to the besieged neighbourhoods, to fulfil their stated mission,” the SNC, the main umbrella group of opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said in its statement.
“Since early this morning, the [Homs] neighbourhood of Baba Amr has been under a tight siege and the threat of military invasion by an estimated 4,000 soldiers.
“This is in addition to the nonstop bombing of Homs that has been going on for days.”
In its statement, the SNC further said: “In addition, we demand that the observers go to all the hotspots in Syria, or withdraw and conclude their mission if it is not possible for them to do so.
“We hold the Arab League and the international community accountable for the massacres and bloodshed committed by the regime in Syria.”
Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, has said he expects the Arab League observers to vindicate his government’s contention that the violence in the country is the work of “armed terrorists”.
Western governments and rights groups blame the Assad government for the bloodshed.
Opposition leaders charge that Syria agreed to the mission after weeks of prevarication in a “ploy” to head off the Arab League’s threat to go to the UN Security Council over the crackdown.aljazeera, Voice of a Nation