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Arab League Monitors Arrive To More Violence

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Arab League observers walking in a government building during their visit to Daraa in southern Syria, December 29, 2011.

These repressive actions are a gross violation of the terms of the Arab League initiative that the Syrian regime agreed to on November 2nd.

Arab League monitors have arrived in Syria following another slaughter of civilians in Homs, Daraa and other cities. The world has been witness to horrific pictures of indiscriminate fire, including by heavy tank guns, and reports of dozens of deaths, thousands of arrests, as well as beatings of peaceful protestors.

Needless to say, these repressive actions are a gross violation of the terms of the Arab League initiative that the Syrian regime agreed to on November 2nd and the protocol on observers that the regime agreed to on December 19th. The Arab League Initiative, designed to protect civilians, called for the removal of military forces from the cities; allowing peaceful demonstrations; stopping violence by security forces, including the government's shabiha militia; releasing all political prisoners; and allowing Arab League monitors and members of the international media to move freely throughout the country.

Arab League monitors must be able to deploy and move freely within Homs and other Syrian cities. The monitors should have complete access to protestors and to areas most severely affected by the regime's crackdown. They bear a heavy responsibility in trying to protect Syrian civilians from the depredations of a murderous regime.

Since the Syrian uprising began in mid-March, the country has been virtually shut off from outsiders, with foreign press and international observers obtaining only limited access to the country. The Arab League mission to Syria will be divided into groups of ten and sent around the country to verify that Syrian forces are complying with the agreement they made to stop violence, release detainees, and remove armed forces from urban areas.

The United Nations estimates that more than five-thousand people have died as a result of the Syrian regime's crackdown and more than fourteen thousand people are in detention.

The next steps that the United States and the international community take will consider the extent of cooperation from Syrian authorities with the Arab League monitoring mission, and the government's degree of compliance with all the aspects of the Arab League initiative. If the Syrian regime continues to resist and disregard Arab League efforts, the international community will consider other means to protect Syrian civilians.