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Arab League calls urgent meeting on Syria monitors - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Demonstrators perform prayer before a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Idlib. (R)

Demonstrators perform prayer before a protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Idlib. (R)

BEIRUT (AP) — The Arab League on Tuesday called for an emergency meeting to discuss whether to withdraw the group’s monitors from Syria, where security forces are still killing protesters despite the observers’ presence, an Arab official said.

The meeting will take place Saturday in Cairo, where the Arab League is based.

The Arab League’s deputy secretary-general, Ahmed bin Heli, said the meeting will look into the first report by the head of the monitoring mission, which began Dec. 27.

Another official told The Associated Press that the ministerial meeting will discuss whether to pull out the monitors because of the ongoing violence in Syria. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Saturday meeting will not make a final decision, but will send its recommendations to another, high-level ministerial meeting. No date was set for that meeting.

There are about 100 Arab League monitors in Syria, dispatched to verify the regime’s compliance with an Arab League plan to stop its crackdown on a 9-month-old uprising.

But activists say hundreds have been slain in the week since the observers started work.

On Monday, League chief Nabil Elaraby acknowledged ongoing bloodshed but insisted the observer mission has yielded important concessions from the Damascus regime, such as the withdrawal of heavy weapons from cities.

Opposition groups have been deeply critical of the mission, saying it is simply giving Assad cover for his crackdown. The Local Coordinating Committees, an umbrella group of activists, says the observer mission is witnessing mainly regime-staged events, and they move about the country only with the full knowledge of the government.

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Yabroud December 30, 2011. Banner on the left reads "Revolution will continue until the execution of Assad." (R)

Demonstrators protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Yabroud December 30, 2011. Banner on the left reads “Revolution will continue until the execution of Assad.” (R)

Demonstrators hold posters that read, "To the Pharaohs of Arab League, no blessing on you and your efforts", during a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Marrat Hrama December 30, 2011. (R)

Demonstrators hold posters that read, “To the Pharaohs of Arab League, no blessing on you and your efforts”, during a demonstration against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Marrat Hrama December 30, 2011. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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