The Arab League says around 100 observers will remain in country but will not undertake new missions [Reuters]
The Arab League has suspended its monitoring mission in Syria due to
what it called the escalation of violence and "critical deterioration of
the situation" in the country.
Nabil Elaraby, the secretary-general of the Arab League, announced the decision in a statement on Saturday.
"It has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab
League's mission to Syria pending presentation of the issue to the
league's council," he said.
The bloc said around 100 observers would remain in the country but would not undertake new missions.
The mission was set up in December to monitor Damascus' compliance with an
Arab League plan to end a bloody crackdown on 10 months of protests
against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The bloc extended the 165-member mission after its first month, but Gulf Arab states later withdrew their monitors.
The mission has been widely criticised by the Syrian opposition for failing
to bring a halt to the government's crackdown on protests.
Arab peace plan
The Arab League also confirmed on Saturday that it was holding talks with
Russia, one of the main opponents of the bloc's peace plan.
The talks come ahead of a United Nations meeting on Monday. The Arab
League and Western countries are pushing for a UN Security Council vote
on a draft resolution on Syria - although Russia opposes the move.
The Arab League chief and Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al
Thani are set to leave for New York on Saturday to seek UN support
for the latest Arab plan to end Syria's crisis.
The plan calls
for a two-month transition to a unity government, with Assad giving his
vice-president full powers to work with the proposed government.
which joined China in vetoing a previous resolution in October, said
the draft was unacceptable in its present form, but said it was willing
to "engage" on it. Syria has rejected the proposal, saying it violates
The Security Council discussed a draft European-Arab resolution on Friday aimed at halting the violence.
Activists in Syria say that at least 80 people have been killed in the past three days across the country.
The UN says more than 5,000 people have been killed since March when protests erupted against Assad's rule.
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