Arab League wants “rapid deployment” of Syria monitors

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi demanded on Thursday the "rapid deployment" of UN observers to Syria to monitor a ceasefire that is becoming ever more tenuous.

"The entire world is waiting for a truce and the observers to be deployed, but unfortunately the fighting has not stopped and every day new victims die," he said at a league ministerial meeting in Cairo.

"The United Nations has had difficulties in sending monitors, and this morning I called [UN and Arab League envoy] Kofi Annan and found him to be as ill at ease as I am" about the situation, Arabi said.

"We agreed that I would contact the UN secretary general [Ban Ki-moon] and I sent him a message about the necessity of a rapid deployment of observers in Syria," Arabi said.

He added that he urged Ban "to take advantage of UN observers already in the region," without elaborating.

"The important thing now is the ceasefire, and this will only happen if a sufficient number of observers are deployed" on the ground, the head of the 22-member pan-Arab organization said.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has said it would take at least a month to get the first 100 observers into Syria.

He told the Security Council that Damascus was refusing to accept monitors from the Western and Arab coalition of countries in the so-called Friends of Syria group that has backed the Syrian opposition.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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