Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages

January 29, 2012

By Ayman Samir and Erika Solomon | Reuters

The Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria because of worsening violence, a move Damascus said was an attempt to encourage foreign intervention as it struggles to quell a 10-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab League took the decision Saturday days after calling on Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.

Instability is increasing inside Syria. Saturday, the army launched an offensive against rebels who seized three Damascus suburbs this week. Activists said at least 12 people had been killed and 30 injured, mostly by anti-aircraft fire and mortar rounds. The report could not be independently verified.

“Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence … it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League’s mission to Syria…” Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.

Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss early next month the possibility of withdrawing monitors completely, a League official said.

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