Arab League stops sending more Syria monitors

Filed on January 11, 2012
Arab League stops sending more Syria monitors

The Arab League is putting on hold a decision to send new observers to Syria after three monitors were slightly wounded in an attack this week

CAIRO — The Arab League is putting on hold a decision to send new observers to Syria after three monitors were slightly wounded in an attack this week, an official at the Cairo-based bloc said on Wednesday.

The official also dismissed remarks by an Algerian monitor who said he quit the Syria mission, accusing the regime of war crimes, saying all his claims were unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

“The Arab League will not send more observers to Syria for the time being until the situation calms down,” following Monday’s attack targeting observers in the port city of Latakia, the unnamed official said.

He said that two Kuwaiti monitors and one observer from the United Arab Emirates were wounded in the attack, suffering “minor cuts” when protesters broke the window of their vehicle.

Kuwait on Tuesday said two of its army officers who are part of the mission in Syria were “slightly hurt” the previous day by “unidentified protesters” in Latakia.

It was the first reported attack of its kind.

The UAE did not report any injuries among its observers but its foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, accused Syria on Tuesday of not facilitating the job of the Arab monitors.

“The job of the observers is getting more difficult day after day... We do not see a commitment from the Syrian side that would allow them” do their job, he said.

The three injured observers were in a team of 11 monitors from different countries, the League official said, adding that they are still carrying on their mission in Latakia.

Last Sunday an Arab League task force on Syria decided to upgrade the mission by sending more observers to the violence-swept country despite mounting criticism of the operation.

League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Tuesday denounced Monday’s attack and said he was holding the Syrian government responsible for the observers’ mission.

“The Arab League is keen on the pursuit of the mission in a secure atmosphere so as not to be obliged to freeze the operation,” Arabi said.

Meanwhile the Arab League official accused Algerian monitor Anwar Malek of making “unfounded” claims in an interview broadcast on Wednesday by Al-Jazeera television.

“He was ill and bedridden at his Syria hotel. So how could he make those claims?”

Malek had told Al-Jazeera: “What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people.

“Children are killed and they are starved and terrorised.”

The observer, who said he spent 15 days in the flashpoint central city of Homs, said it must be declared a “disaster” zone. “I saw charred and skinned bodies that had been tortured,” Malek said.

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