Syria vows to protect Arab League observers after attacks
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed that Syria would protect Arab League observers, state media reported Wednesday, following at least one attack in which 11 members of the mission were injuredm, dpa reported.
Speaking after a meeting in the capital Damascus with the head of the mission, Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, al-Moallem pledged "full cooperation," according to the news agency SANA.
Damascus was committed to carrying out the peace pact signed with the 22-member pan-Arab organization on December 19, which made provision for the deployment of the 165-member observer mission, he said.
Eleven members of the observer mission were on Tuesday reported to have been injured in an attack by protesters in the port city of Latakia.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi has denounced the attack and warned that the mission would be "frozen" if observers were targeted again.
Meanwhile, an Arab League observer from Algeria, on Wednesday said he had quit the mission in Syria.
"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people," Anwar Malek told the broadcaster Al Jazeera.
"The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians. People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and none were released," he said.
There was no immediate comment from the Arab League.
In a speech on Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed what he called foreign plotters for a 10-month uprising against his regime and vowed to crush their "terrorism" with an iron fist.
According to United Nations estimates, more than 5,000 people have died in the clashes between protesters calling for reform and the Syrian government that began in March.