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Arabs may call on UN to help in Syria

Arabs may call on UN to help in Syria

Presence of monitors has not stopped violence; Qatar says mission cannot stay to "waste time"; Arab states oppose foreign military intervention

January 8, 2012 1:27 by

A UN spokesman said Sheikh Hamad and Ban discussed what practical measures the United Nations could use to help the observer mission, possibly training for League observers under the auspices of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The League has given the monitors one month to assess whether Assad has followed its plan to end the violence by withdrawing the military from Syrian towns and cities.

More monitors with varied skills and experience are due in Syria in the coming week, taking the number to 150 who will deploy to all Syrian cities, according to the League.

Assad’s opponents said the monitors did not have enough access and were escorted by Syrian officials who were manipulating them and hiding prisoners in military facilities.

League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said this week there was still work to be done to honour the agreement between the League and Syria, which also stipulates the release of thousands of prisoners detained since the uprising began in March.

Syria bars most independent journalists from the country, making first-hand reporting impossible, but a BBC Arabic service reporter was allowed to accompany three Arab monitors to a town on the outskirts of Damascus.

It was the first time foreign media were known to have been able to cover the activities of the monitors directly, although media access was a condition stipulated by the Arab League.

The BBC said it had been able to film, unhindered by the security forces.

Protesters and residents told the observers, all Algerian diplomats, of harsh treatment at the hands of the security forces. The observers then witnessed a demonstration in which the crowd demanded Assad’s execution, the BBC said. (By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Pfeiffer; Additional reporting by Ayman Samir and Lin Noueihed; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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