French FM urges Arab Syria monitors to be wary of regime
France's foreign minister on Wednesday warned Arab observers trying to assess Syria's implementation of a peace agreement not to let themselves be manipulated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
"The Arab League can take credit for taking an initiative but the Arab League observers must not let themselves be manipulated by the regime, as the regime is trying to," Alain Juppe said after talks with his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Portas.
A team of Arab League monitors has been in Syria since December 26 trying to assess the regime's implementation of the peace agreement signed by both sides aimed at ending violence in the country.
"If these objectives cannot be reached, we will work together at the Security Council so that the UN Security Council will at last speak about the situation in Syria," said Juppe.
The United Nations estimated last month that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government's crackdown on dissent since March.
France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and Portugal currently a non-permanent member.
"What is going on (in Syria) is unacceptable," said Juppe. "What we see is a savage crackdown."
Portas added that "violence and repression in Syria are absolutely intolerable".
Syrian democracy activists on Tuesday denounced as "unprofessional" the Arab League mission after the bloc's chief admitted snipers remained active in the country despite their presence.
Washington condemned the brutal treatment of protesters, saying it was "past time" for the UN Security Council to act against Damascus.
And French President Nicolas Sarkozy demanded Assad step down for overseeing "disgusting" massacres of his own people.
Local coordination committees which organise protests have said that 390 people have been killed since the monitors arrived on December 26.
But the leader of the main opposition group said Tuesday the observer mission remained useful even if it cannot impose the Arab peace plan.
© 2012 AFP