Arab League to send 500 observers to Syria
The Arab League is preparing to send observers to Syria but needs guarantees from Damascus on their mission and the rights of each side, the organisation's chief Nabil al-Arabi said.
Cairo: The Arab League is preparing to send observers to Syria but needs guarantees from Damascus on their mission and the rights of each side, the organisation's chief Nabil al-Arabi said today.
The decision to send a 500-strong delegation follows a vote to suspend Damascus from the 22-member Arab bloc over its deadly crackdown on protests. It came a day after Syria said it would welcome such a mission.
"None of the delegates of Arab organisations tasked with protecting civilians will go to Syria until a clear memorandum of understanding is signed with the Syrian government spelling out the duties and rights of all the parties," Arabi told reporters.
He made the remarks after separate talks in Cairo with representatives of Arab human rights groups and Syrian opposition figures.
Arabi chaired a meeting of the groups at which it was agreed a 500-strong delegation made up of rights activists, media and military experts would head to Syria on a fact-finding mission to study measures to protect civilians.
Arab foreign ministers are due to organise the trip and set a date for the mission on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a meeting in Rabat, according to a League official.
A senior member of the Union of Arab doctors, Ibrahim al-Zaafarani, said Syrian authorities will be asked to sign a document providing the delegation "guarantees" for their protection and freedom of movement.
"We will go everywhere and write up reports on the conditions of civilians and means of protecting them, and we will submit the reports to the Arab foreign ministers," he added.
The Arab League on Saturday voted to suspend Syria from all Arab League activities over its failure to implement a deal to end the violence which has left around 3,500 dead since March, according to UN figures.
Arabi said he has received a letter from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem calling for an urgent Arab summit to discuss the crisis.
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