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Arab League chief says to continue observer mission in Syria

(Xinhua)

08:14, January 05, 2012

CAIRO, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Arab League (AL) chief Nabil el-Arabi rejected on Wednesday a call to withdraw the observers from Syria, saying the mission will continue in line with the signed protocol.

The AL will assess the situation by reviewing a report by Sudanese Mohamed Ahmed el-Dabi, head of the observers mission, the AL secretary general said in a statement.

"We have a specific mission for a renewable month in which many things can be achieved, but now we need to evaluate the situation, " he said.

Dabi is expected to return to Egypt's capital Cairo later this week to submit a report to the ministerial meeting about the situation in Syria.

The Arab Parliament, an advisory body to the AL, urged on Sunday immediately stop the observer mission due to continued violence in Syria.

The Arab ministerial committee, who follows up the Syrian crisis, will hold a meeting on Sunday in Cairo. The meeting was initially scheduled for Saturday, but the AL decided on Wednesday to delay it until Sunday to allow for greater participation, Egypt 's official news agency MENA reported.

The ministerial committee includes delegates from Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and Oman, in addition to Arabi.

Syria signed the AL observer protocol on Dec. 19, 2011 in Cairo after the AL threatened to submit the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

So far, the AL has dispatched around 70 observers to Syria. The advance team of observers, led by Samir Saif al-Yazal, assistant to Arabi, returned to Cairo on Sunday after a ten-day visit to Damascus.

Arabi said on Monday that Syrian military had pulled back from residential areas and was on the outskirts of the country's cities, calling Syria to withdraw all snipers in the cities and immediately halt all shootings.

"There are still snipers on the roof of buildings. Syria must stop the gunfire immediately," Arabi told reporters in Cairo.

The Syrian government said a total of 2,000 army and security personnel were killed during the nine-month-old unrest. However, the UN said more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed.

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