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Gulf States To Withdraw Observers From Syria Mission


Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint in Homs on January 23.
Gulf Arab states have announced that they plan to withdraw from the Arab League observer mission in Syria.

The move is seen as further damaging the credibility of the Arab League monitoring team in Syria, which critics say has failed to halt more than 10 months of violence in the country.

The announcement by six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members on January 24 follows a decision by Saudi Arabia, the largest GCC member, to withdraw its observers from the Arab League mission. The other five GCC members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

It was not immediately clear when the GCC will pull its monitors from the 11-nation Arab League observer mission.

An Arab League observer speaks with a wounded man in a hospital after a powerful explosion in Damascus earlier this month.
An Arab League observer speaks with a wounded man in a hospital after a powerful explosion in Damascus earlier this month.
The GCC move came after the Syrian regime rejected an Arab League plan to end the violence between President Bashar al-Assad's security forces and the opposition.

The Arab League demanded on January 22 that Assad hand over power to his deputy and called for the formation of a national unity government to prepare for early parliamentary and presidential elections.

Reacting to the Arab League move, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told a news conference on January 24 that the Arab League had taken a political decision it knew Syria could not accept.

The foreign minister also said some Arab countries have joined in what he called a conspiracy against his country.

In a joint statement, the Gulf Arab states also called on the UN Security Council to press Syria to implement Arab League peace initiatives.

The Arab League says it has requested a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to present its new proposals for resolving the Syria crisis, and to seek support from the UN Security Council.

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown in Syria by security forces since protests against Assad's regime began in March.

The UN Security Council has been blocked for months on Syria, with Russia and China resisting calls by Western countries for a resolution threatening measures against the regime.

Russia and China, which have veto powers on the Security Council, blocked a proposed European-backed resolution in October, saying it was the first step toward enforced regime change by foreign powers.

compiled from agency reports