Conflict & Justice

Syria agrees to let Arab League observers oversee peace deal


Nabil al-Araby, Secretary General of the Arab League, optimistic during meetings in Damascus, while others doubt reforms are possible.



The Syrian government has signed an agreement to allow Arab League observers into its country, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Monday.

The agreement was signed by Muallem's deputy at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo, the Associated Press reported.

Syria asked for some amendments to the protocol to protect its sovereignty, Muallem told a press conference in Damascus, but promised that observers would be allowed to move freely under the protection of the Syrian government—with the exception of military sites.

According to the BBC, Syria demanded that observers coordinate with local authorities, which the Arab League accepted.

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The first foreign monitors will arrive in Syria "within two or three days," according to Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi. An advance team of security, legal and administrative observers will be sent first, he said, followed by selected representatives from Arab countries and NGOs.

The agreement does not affect the Arab League's sanctions on Syria, Reuters reported.

The League had given Damascus until Wednesday to agree to its demand for access before turning to the UN Security Council for help enforcing the peace plan it agreed with Syria in November, the AP said.

Muallem indicated that Syria had decided to sign the deal on advice from Russia, Al Arabiya reported.

Calling on the Arab League to remove sanctions against his country, Muallem said Damascus hoped for a "political solution" to violence that has left more than 4,000 people dead:

"We want to emerge from this crisis and build a safe, modern Syria, a Syria that will be a model of democracy."

He claimed that foreign observers would find proof of the government's claims that armed terrorist groups are reponsible for the conflict in Syria. That explanation contradicts a UN report, which accused the authorities of ordering a violent crackdown on protesters.

A London-based human rights group accused Syrian security forces of killing at least six civilians in the south of the country Monday, the BBC reported.

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