Arab ministers want UN to train Syria monitors
'We want to do more,' says Qatari prime minister
Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo have decided to ask the UN to help train monitors who are on a surveillance mission in Syria while renewing calls for the Syrian government to immediately stop its violent crackdown on dissidents.
Foreign ministers were getting an update Sunday on the mission, which has been widely criticized for its lack of teeth. On Sunday, activists reported at least another 10 civilians have been killed by Syrian forces.
Officials from Qatar, which currently heads the 22-country Arab League, were pushing for UN representatives and human rights experts be recruited to expand the monitoring mission but ministers did not agree, instead allowing for UN experts to train monitors in Cairo before they head to Syria.
A group of observers has been inside Syria for almost two weeks and their aim was to make sure the administration of President Bashar Assad complies with a peace deal requiring his military forces to withdraw from residential areas, the release of prisoners and the initiation of talks with opposition groups.
There are 165 monitors currently in Syria and Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani concedes he wishes more could be done.
"Is what happened ideal? We want to do more," he said. "We know that the Syrian people have made a decision, but what we want is to lessen the losses, human losses."
The league has come under harsh criticism, especially from Syrian opposition troops who say they have failed to stop the government's bloody crackdown on protesters.
Syrian activist Thaer al-Nashef told The Associated Press that the regime is misleading the 165 observers and that the mission has done nothing to resolve the crisis. Al-Nashef is pushing for direct UN involvement.
"The monitors have not moved the situation forward or backward in Syria. At the same time the regime is killing the Syrian revolution," he said. "The Arab League should stop this staged performance, because the Syrian regime is not adhering to the agreement."
Activists estimate more than 30 people have died over the weekend and about 450 in total have been killed during the two weeks the Arab League monitors have been in the country.
On Sunday, the Local Co-ordination Commitees, an anti-government activist group, told al-Jazeera there was heavy shelling and gunfire in Deir el-Zour.
The UN estimates more than 5,000 people have died since the civil uprising began last March, with about 20,000 people imprisoned as well.
With files from The Associated Press