Syria Agrees to Arab League Plan to Avoid UN Action
Syria signed an Arab League initiative Monday that will allow Arab observers into the country, on a day when activists said more than 100 people were killed, making it one of the bloodiest days in the nine-month uprising.
Activists reported up to 70 army defectors were killed by security forces who fired at them as they were deserting their military posts near the Turkish border. At least 30 other people died in other incidents across the country, the activists said.
Syria has placed severe restrictions on journalists, and the reports by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian Revolution General Commission activist group could not be independently confirmed.
The signing at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo followed increasing world pressure on Syria alongside a wave of armed clashes between Syria’s military and defectors from the army, raising fears of an imminent civil war.
The regime’s acceptance of observers after weeks of delays came after a warning from Arab leaders that they would turn to the U.N. Security Council for action to try to end President Bashar Assad’s crackdown that the U.N. says has killed at least 5,000 people.
The U.N. General Assembly on Monday condemned human rights violations by Assad’s government, calling for an immediate end to violence and implementation of the Arab League plan “without further delay.” The vote on the nonbinding resolution was 133-11 with 43 abstentions.
By signing, the Syrian regime stands to gain more time and to avert — for now at least — the possibility of wider international involvement in the crisis. But critics were skeptic the regime would actually allow the observers full, unrestricted access to trouble spots and said it was likely a delaying tactic.
Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of Syria’s main opposition group the Syrian National Council, accused the Assad regime of lying and said the signing was “worthless” in light of the brutal crackdown under way daily in Syria.