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Syria restates commitment to Arab League amid attacks on monitors

01-11-2012 12:00 BJT

DAMASCUS, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Syria has stressed its commitment to the Arab League (AL) as news came out that monitors of the bloc were attacked in the troubled country.

While denouncing any action that might "hinder the observer mission in Syria," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday that his country will continue shouldering its responsibilities to protect AL observers.

Al-Moallem made the remarks during a meeting with Moustafa Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi, head of the AL observer mission in Syria, according to a Syrian Foreign Ministry statement faxed to Xinhua.

The top Syrian diplomat also stressed Syria's commitment to implement the AL protocol signed by the two sides on Dec. 19. He urged the observers to stick to objectivity and evenhandedness in their mission, according to the statement.

Al-Moallem also said some regional and international parties are questioning the observer mission in Syria in order to find a cover to take the Syria crisis to the UN Security Council.

Earlier in the day, the Kuwait News Agency reported that two Kuwaiti military officers were slightly wounded in an attack by protesters on a team of AL observers in the coastal city of Latakia.

"The team of the Arab League mission in Syria was attacked by unknown protesters," it quoted officials as saying, adding that the injured observers were treated at a local hospital.

AL Chief Nabil al-Arabi on Tuesday condemned violence against observers in Syria, saying AL monitoring teams were attacked by both pro-government people and the opposition in different cities.

Al-Arabi noted there was a hostile campaign against the AL monitoring mission in Syria since the league issued a statement Sunday calling on the Syrian government to abide by the Dec. 19 protocol.

The AL decided on Sunday to increase the number of monitors in Syria to about 200, from the current level of some 160. The monitors have been deployed in the country since Dec. 26.

In other developments, U.S. and Syrian representatives to the UN addressed reporters separately after a closed-door meeting by the UN Security Council on situations in Syria.

Susan Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the UN, said the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is stepping up violent activities against civilians, despite the presence of AL monitors.

Meanwhile, her Syrian counterpart Bashar Ja'afari said the violence that caused the deaths of many Syrians happened because of "outside instigation."

The remarks echoed a national address earlier Tuesday by President al-Assad, who reiterated his determination to fight terrorism and foreign-backed armed gangs "with an iron fist."

"Syria will not close doors to any Arab solution respecting the Syrian sovereignty and the independence of the country's decision," Assad said in the speech, his fourth national address since unrest started in the country in March.

In response to the speech, the United States accused al-Assad of doing everything but what he needs to do, saying he was not meeting the commitments his country made to the AL.X State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dubbed al-Assad's speech an effort to "deflect the attention of his own people from the real problems" and reiterated the U.S. call for him to step down.

Also on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a phone conversation with the AL chief, repeating Moscow's calls for an end to the violence in Syria and urging AL observers to monitor the action of both the Syrian authorities and the opposition.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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