News / Middle East

    Syria Criticizes Arab League Committee Chief's Comments

    Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani (file photo)
    Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani (file photo)

    Syria's representative to the Arab League says comments by the head of the group's committee on Syria, show a "biased stance" toward the crisis in the country.

    Syria's state-run SANA news agency Monday reported the criticism by Yousef Ahmad, who said the "majority of the Syrian people" are against outside interference in the country.

    His comments came in response to those made Sunday by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani calling for Syria to stop its deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.

    Arab League foreign ministers agreed Sunday to increase the number of monitors observing Syria's compliance with a plan to stop the violence.

    The top diplomats from Qatar and other Arab nations met in Cairo to assess the progress of the observer mission, which has about 150 people in Syria.

    Syrian opposition activists and rights groups have criticized the observers, saying their presence has failed to secure any easing of the crackdown by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some critics have called on the League to withdraw the monitors.

    But the Arab League says the mission will continue.  The head of the observer team, Sudanese General Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, gave an initial report on its progress Sunday and is due to give a full report January 19.

    More than 50 opponents of President Assad rallied outside the Cairo hotel where the Arab ministers met, chanting anti-Assad slogans. They want an end to his 11-year autocratic rule.

    The United Nations says violence related to Assad's suppression of the rebellion has killed at least 5,000 people. Damascus accuses armed terrorists of driving the revolt and killing 2,000 security personnel.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says army defectors who joined the uprising killed 11 pro-Assad troops and wounded 20 others in a battle on Sunday in the southern province of Daraa. The British-based rights group also says Syrian security forces and pro-Assad militiamen killed at least 10 civilians on Sunday in attacks on opposition protest hubs.  It says seven of those killed were in the central province of Homs.

    There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.  Syria bars most foreign journalists from operating freely in the country.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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