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Arab observers continue monitoring mission in restive Syrian provinces

(Xinhua)

08:09, January 04, 2012

DAMASCUS, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Arab League (AL) observers in Syria continued their mission for the seventh consecutive day in restive provinces, as the AL ministerial committee in charge of handling the Syrian crisis will meet on Saturday to look into the first report on the country's unrest.

State-run SANA news agency said Arab teams carried on with their tasks in central Homs, northern Idlib, and southern Daraa provinces.

Earlier in the day, Afifi Abdul-Latif, an AL observer, told private al-Watan newspaper that the Syrian government is committed to the peace plan, adding that the observers have already fulfilled 40 missions till now in Syria.

"We have faced some expected things," he said, adding that there are now 84 observers in Syria.

Meanwhile, the AL on Tuesday called for an emergency meeting for the ministerial committee in charge of handling the Syrian crisis to discuss the first report submitted by the AL observer mission in Syria, which began on Dec. 27.

The meeting, which is set to take place Saturday at the AL headquarters in Cairo, will talk about the latest development of the situation in Syria and would adopt new measures of the Arab initiative, according to an AL statement.

A new team of 14 Arab observers arrived in Syria's capital of Damascus on Tuesday to join the AL mission there, according to Egypt's official MENA news agency.

Meanwhile, another six Bahraini observers will head to Syria as well to join the team within a few hours, MENA said.

A day earlier, AL chief Nabil al-Arabi said that Syrian military has pulled back from residential areas and is on the outskirts of the country's cities. He called Syria to withdraw all snipers out of cities and immediately halt all shootings.

"The Arab League monitors visited six Syrian cities, and has an operation room to follow up the situation in Syria via the mission, " said Arabi, adding that the pan-Arab body could increased the number of observers to more than 100 within a few days.

In November, Syria signed an AL-sponsored plan which demanded an end to all acts of violence and release of all detainees in the country.

According to the peace plan, some 150 observers will be sent to visit hospitals, prisons and restive areas to determine to what extent the Syrian authorities have committed themselves to the Arab initiative.

On Tuesday, "an armed terrorist group targeted in a sabotaging operation" a gas pipeline near al-Rastan town in central Syria that feeds two power stations, according to SANA.

The gas pipeline connecting al-Rayan field in Homs to the central province of Hama was blown up by an explosive device at 9 a.m., said the report, adding that the explosion caused no casualties.

At least five pipelines have been targeted since the eruption of unrest in Syria in mid March. Syria held the "saboteurs" responsible for the attacks.

The Syrian government said recently that a total of 2,000 army and security personnel were killed during the months-long unrest. While the United Nations put the death toll in the country at more than 5,000.

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