x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Syria will sign Arab League protocol if bloc accepts conditions

Damascus will allow Arab League observers into the country, but argues that the plan contains wording that undermines Syrian sovereignty.

Jihad Makdessi, the Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, said Syria has asked for the names and nationalities of the Arab League's mission observers after agreeing to allow then to monitor the unrest inside the country.
Jihad Makdessi, the Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, said Syria has asked for the names and nationalities of the Arab League's mission observers after agreeing to allow then to monitor the unrest inside the country.

DAMASCUS // Syria have said it will allow observers into the country as part of an Arab League plan to end months of unrest, in a turnabout which could stave off crippling regional sanctions.

"The Syrian government responded positively to the signing of the protocol" on the dispatch of observers "based on the Syrian understanding of this co-operation," Jihad Makdesi, the foreign ministry spokesman, said.

Walid Muallem, the foreign minister, had sent a message to the Arab League to that effect yesterday, as an Arab League deadline was set to expire, paving the way for the signing of the protocol, Mr Makdisi said.

Damascus had refused to sign the protocol, arguing that the text contained wording that undermined Syrian sovereignty.

The international community wants monitors to be deployed in Syria to keep a check on forces of Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian president, who has been accused by the United Nations of rights abuses.

The UN estimates that at least 4,000 people have been killed since March in Syria, where regime forces have brutally suppressed a popular revolt against Mr Assad's government.

At least 63 people were killed in violence across the country at the weekend, said human rights activists, who also reported four more deaths today in Homs.

Syria has asked in its message to the Arab League for "minor changes which do not touch on the substance of the protocol and for clarifications that are not linked to the nature of the mission," Mr Makdisi said.

"We asked them for the names and nationalities of the observers" he said. "We hope for a positive reply. The success of this mission depends on Arab intentions."

Syria insists on the terms of Article 8 of the Arab League's charter which stipulates that member states must respect the systems of government in other member states and avoid any action to change them.

Last month Syria was suspended from the 22-member bloc amid mounting calls from world leaders for Assad to quit for failing to halt the bloodshed in his country.