U.S. urges Syria to give AL monitors full access
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday urged the Syrian government to give full access to the Arab League (AL) monitors in order to carry out a "full investigation" on the escalating violence in the Arab state, Xinhua reported.
"It's important that they have access to all areas in order to carry out a full investigation and are able to do their job to the fullest capacity," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a briefing.
He said the monitors should seek to "observe as many of the protests as possible, engage with as many members of the opposition as possible, and really pursue their mission."
Syria signed the AL observer protocol on Dec. 19 in Cairo after the regional bloc threatened to submit the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
The first batch of monitors, some 50 people, arrived in Syria late Monday, officially kicking off the AL's ground assessment of Damascus' compliance with an Arab peace plan to conclude the months-long domestic rift.
Head of the AL observer mission Mohammed Ahmed Mostafa al-Dabi said Tuesday that he was satisfied with the first day of the mission's ground monitoring.
However, Toner did not directly comment on Dabi's assessment, saying that "it was day one."
"So I think it's important that we let them get themselves squared away on the ground, get their mission up and running," he added.
Toner then expressed confidence in the AL mission, adding that the United States is consulting and engaged with the Arab countries on this matter through its embassies in Damascus and Cairo.
But he stressed that "this is an independent monitoring mission and we're going to let them carry out their duties."
The Syrian government said Thursday that a total of 2,000 army and security personnel were killed during the nine-month-old unrest. However, the United Nations said more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed.