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Arab League: Assad Making Observer Mission a 'Mockery'

The 88-member Arab Parliament has called for the Arab League to withdraw its observers from Syria saying it is 'giving Assad a cover'
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/2/2012, 6:23 PM

Syrian forces killed eight more protesters on Monday leading the Arab Parliament to accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was making a mockery of the Arab League's observer mission to Damascus.

The Arab Parliament, an 88-strong advisory committee of delegates from the Arab League's member states, said violence was continuing to claim many victims and that the presence of its observers was serving to aid Assad in covering up his "atrocities."

On Sunday, a child was reportedly shot dead, becoming the first victim in 2012 of the regime's crackdown on dissent - and the main talking point for critics in the Arab Parliament.

"For this to happen in the presence of Arab monitors has roused the anger of Arab people and negates the purpose of sending a fact-finding mission," said Arab Parliament chairman Ali Al Salem Al Dekbas.

"This is giving the Syrian regime an Arab cover for continuing its inhumane actions under the eyes and ears of the Arab League," he said.

Assad's force have killed at least 286 people since December 23, the day before the mission's leader arrived in Syria, according to rights groups.

The monitors have toured several flashpoint areas across the country. The issue of snipers triggered a punlic dispute among the observers, leading to questions about their reliability.

On Friday, a video released by rights groups of a man in a vest bearing the Arab League logo said, in Daraa, "There are snipers; we have seen them with our own eyes."

"We ask the authorities to remove them immediately; if they don't remove them within 24 hours there will be other measures," the unnamed speaker told a crowd of people.

But veteran Sudanese military intelligence officer General Mohammad Ahmad Mustafa Al Dabi, who is heading the observer mission, said the official seen in the video was making a hypothetical remark.

"This man said that if he saw — by his own eyes — those snipers he will report immediately," Al Dabi told the BBC's Newshour program. "But he didn't see" any.

The choice of Al Dabi to head the delegation, himself accused of war crimes in Sudan, has been a point of contention undermining the credibility of the Arab League delegation.

The delegation comes as Assad's regime faces not only an entrenched nine-month protest movement by dissidents demanding his ouster, but a growing insurgency by the Syrian Free Army.

The SFA  is primarily comprised of armed army defectors commanded by dissident generals who have been given safe-haven in Turkey. The SFA has, thus far, launched an effective and deadly guerilla campaign.

UN Human Rights officials have decried the situation in Syria as the civilian death toll has rocketed past 5,000 in recent weeks. Syrian officials say at least 2,000 security forces have also been killed during the uprising.