Syria Agrees to the Presence of Arab League Observers

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 7:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Syria has agreed to allow Arab League observers to monitor its compliance with a peace plan designed to end a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters that the United Nations says has killed at least 5,000 people.

Syria's deputy foreign minister ((Faisal al-Mekdad) signed an accord in Cairo Monday that initially gives the monitors a one-month presence in the country. And the head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, says he expects the mission to begin within three days.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad accepted the Arab League's demand in the face of threats to bring Syria before the U.N. Security Council for possible international sanctions.

The head of the opposition Syrian National Council , Burhan Ghallioun, told reporters in Tunisia that Syria is buying time and “maneuvering” in order to prevent intervention by the Security Council. He called for military intervention.

The accord has not ended the killings. News reports from northern Syria says as many as 70 army deserters were gunned down and they fled their military posts along the Turkish border. Dozens were reported killed elsewhere in the country.

The Arab League's peace proposal calls for the removal of troops and heavy weapons from the streets of Syrian cities, the opening of a dialogue with the opposition and allowing human rights workers and journalists into the country. Syria has demanded changes to the plan without revealing what they are.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership and imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions on Damascus last month to pressure it into accepting the peace initiative.

On Monday the U.N. General Assembly gave overwhelmingly approval to a resolution that condemns what it describes as “grave and systematic human rights violations” that have occurred during the nine-month insurrection.