France says Arab mission in Syria needs to be clarified

3rd January 2012, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday the Arab observer mission in Syria needed to be "clarified" and complained that Russia was blocking any UN condemnation of the Damascus regime.

"The conditions under which this observer mission is operating should be clarified," Juppe told French television I-Tele, adding that he was "sceptical" about its progress.

The Arab League sent in observers as part of a peace plan to try to end months of bloodshed that has left more than 5,000 dead since March, according to the United Nations.

But the mission has been mired in controversy since a first team of 50 observers arrived on December 26, with activists and commentators saying Syrian authorities were keeping the monitors on a short leash and critical of the choice of a former top Sudanese military commander to head the operation.

Juppe questioned whether the observers really had free access to information, but said he would await their report, expected in the coming days, adding: "But I do not consider the battle is already lost."

He also insisted again that the UN Security Council "cannot stay silent" on the situation in Syria, and said he regretted that permanent Council member Russia "continues to block" any condemnation of the regime by the UN.

"It is clear that there is an absolutely savage repression going on, that the regime has no real future and therefore it is for the international community to decide," he said.

"The time is coming when the regime will be totally isolated," Juppe added.

© 2012 AFP

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