News / Middle East

Arab League Suspends Syria Observer Mission

Members from Arab League observers delegation visit al-Msefra town near Deraa, southern Syria, January 5, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Members from Arab League observers delegation visit al-Msefra town near Deraa, southern Syria, January 5, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.

The Arab League said Saturday it is suspending activities by its observer mission in Syria, as the Damascus government's crackdown against dissent intensifies.

The decision to freeze the Arab League observer mission came in the midst of a broad government offensive on areas surrounding the capital, Damascus, and other major cities including Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deir ez Zor. Opposition videos showed government artillery shelling at least half a dozen towns and cities.

Around 100 people are believed to have been killed in Syria in recent days. 

The Arab League's deputy secretary-general said the move to suspend the observer mission was "forced" by the critical and worsening situation in Syria.

The League official, Ahmed Ben Helli, said the observers are not officially being withdrawn from Syria now, but will remain in Damascus. However, the Arab League's own report on the observer mission, seen at the United Nations Saturday, said more than 20 of the original 166 observers have already left Syria.

Arab League ambassadors are to meet next Saturday to make final decisions about the mission.

Syrian government analyst George Jabbour told al Hurra TV that Syria agreed to a one-month extension of the observer mission and deplores the decision to suspend it.

The Arab League asked Syria to extend the observers' time in Syria, and the government agreed, said Jabbour. The situation on the ground makes it necessary to have observers present, and he added authorities in Damascus feel any decision to withdraw the Arab League team would be unjustified.

Across Syria Saturday, an oil pipeline exploded and caught fire near the desert town of Deir ez Zor. The government and the opposition blamed each other for the blast.

Scattered reports of a Syrian government military escalation were accompanied by a warning on state television that interior ministry is “adamant about purging the country of all outlaws.”

The Syrian opposition, meanwhile, meeting in Turkey, accused Iran of helping Syria try to suppress the uprising, which has been growing since March.  

Opposition Syrian National Council member Samir Najjar urged Iran to stop.  The council condemns the Iranian regime for helping to kill Syrian citizens demanding freedom, he said, calling on Tehran to end such actions.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said the decision to freeze the Arab League observer mission indicates the Assad government's crackdown is going to intensify further. "There has been a dramatic escalation in violence in Syria and, I believe that the termination of the mission of the Arab League observers in Syria indicates that the Syrian Army is about to launch a major offensive. The regime is about to do something dramatic," said Khashan.

He suggested Syrian authorities are responding to the current trip to the United Nations by Arab League leaders. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al Arabi and Qatar's foreign minister Hamad Ben Jassem are in New York for talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the Arab League's plan for resolving the Syrian crisis.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid counter-terror intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid