France wants Arab observers in Syria's Homs straight away

26th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

France wants Arab League peace monitors to deploy immediately to the Syrian city of Homs, where regime forces are suppressing a popular revolt, the foreign ministry said.

"The Damascus authorities must imperatively, in accordance with the Arab League plan, allow observers access this afternoon to the city of Homs, where the violence is particularly bloody," spokesman Bernard Valero said.

An initial group of 50 Arab observers was due to land in Syria later Monday to oversee a deal aimed at ending Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on dissent, but gunfire was reportedly continuing in Homs and other flashpoints.

Opposition groups said 13 people had been killed in the besieged city on Monday alone, and United Nations humanitarian officials believe that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the nine months since the revolt began.

Defecting soldiers have carried out some armed attacks on behalf of the opposition, but witnesses say most street demonstrations against the regime have been unarmed and the government's response has been brutal.

A nine-member advance team of Arab monitors arrived on Thursday to pave the way for the observer mission to oversee a deal aimed at ending the crackdown.

Syrian opposition groups have said observers must stop work if they are blocked by authorities from travelling to hot spots like Homs, fearing the regime will try to whitewash its alleged atrocities.

© 2011 AFP

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