Arab League Team Due to Arrive in Syria

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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An advance team of Arab League observers is due to arrive in Syria Thursday to help ensure the government is following pledges to stop security forces from attacking protesters.

The team is preparing for the eventual deployment of hundreds of monitors. Syria agreed to allow the observers into the country under global pressure to stop its bloody crackdown on nine months of anti-government unrest.

Neighboring Turkey condemned the Syrian government Thursday, saying its policies were turning the country into a “bloodbath.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement the violence raised serious concerns about Syria's true intentions, and that no administration can be a winner in a struggle against its own people.

The statement follows similar comments Wednesday from the White House, which said it is only a matter of time before the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad comes to an end.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said fear is the only thing holding the Syrian government together, and that governments based on fear are always doomed.

Carney noted that military defections are on the rise, foreign diplomats are leaving their posts and supporting the opposition, and that some traditional Syrian allies, including the Arab League and Turkey, have turned against the country. Carney also said international sanctions are putting Syria under financial duress.

Syrian opposition officials say troops have killed 250 people since Monday — one of the bloodiest periods since the anti-government uprising began in March.

The opposition Syrian National Council is urging the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on the situation. It also wants the U.N. to declare safe zones inside Syria.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, says the Security Council will hold a second round of negotiations Thursday to “build consensus” on a Russian-sponsored draft resolution on Syria.

The United Nations says at least 5,000 people have been killed during the nine-month uprising against Mr. Assad's government. Syrian authorities blame the violence on “armed terrorist groups.”