Head of Arab Mission to Syria Quits; New Envoy Proposed

Posted February 12th, 2012 at 8:15 am (UTC-5)
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The Arab League says it has accepted the resignation of the Sudanese general who led the group's observer mission to Syria, and will nominate a former Jordanian foreign minister as the new special envoy for the Syrian crisis.

Officials said General Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi stepped down Sunday, as foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League met in Cairo to consider a new joint Arab-United Nations mission to Syria.

The new observer team would replace one suspended last month after a surge in violence in Syria. League officials said chief Nabil Elaraby was set to propose Abdel Elah al-Khatib to replace al-Dabi. Al-Khatib was the former U.N. envoy to Libya.

Gulf Arab states have withdrawn their observers to protest the Syrian government's refusal to end its suppression of an 11-month uprising.

The Arab League ministers are also likely to discuss recognition of the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council, an opposition umbrella group.

On Saturday, violence continued in the flashpoint city of Homs, where at least 10 people were killed as Syrian forces moved in to crush the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In Damascus and in the southern city of Douma, clashes between the Free Syrian Army and government troops killed at least three people. Government troops also entered parts of the mountain town of Zabadani.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. But the world organization said last month that it stopped compiling a death toll because it is too difficult to obtain information.