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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arab League to Review Observers' Final Syria Report Next Sunday

VOA News January 15, 2012

The Arab League says its foreign ministers will meet next Sunday to review a final report by observers sent to Syria to determine whether its government is honoring pledges to stop cracking down on an opposition uprising.

Arab League monitors who have been operating in Syria since December 26 are due to complete their mission on Thursday. Syrian rights groups say President Bashar al-Assad has deceived the monitors and escalated deadly attacks on the opposition in recent weeks.

The Arab League says the observers' final report will be discussed by a special Syria committee on Saturday and at a full meeting of Arab foreign ministers the next day.

Qatar is the most outspoken Arab nation in favor of tougher action on Syria. In an interview with the U.S. television network CBS to be broadcast Sunday, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani says Arab troops should be sent to Syria to stop the violence. He is the first Arab leader to make such a proposal.

Former Arab League secretary-general Amr Mussa said Sunday the 22-member bloc should discuss the Qatari emir's idea of replacing the monitoring mission with a military force to separate Syrian security forces and civilians. He was speaking on the sidelines of a U.N. conference in Beirut.

In a report Sunday, the Reuters news agency quotes an Arab League diplomat as saying the body has not received any official proposal for an Arab troop mission to Syria.

In separate remarks at the Beirut conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Assad to stop killing the Syrian people. Ban also said "the path of repression is a dead end" and recent Arab revolutions show that people are no longer content with one-man rule.

Syrian protesters have been demanding the introduction of democracy and an end to Mr. Assad's 11-year autocratic rule since last March. Army defectors have joined the revolt in recent months and engaged in battles with pro-Assad forces. Syria blames the uprising on "armed terrorists" backed by a foreign conspiracy.

In the latest violence, Syrian state news agency SANA says a roadside bomb hit a bus carrying textile workers in the northwestern region of Idlib on Sunday, killing six people and wounding 16 others. It says terrorists detonated the device. SANA also says four soldiers killed in fighting in the central region of Homs were buried on Sunday.

In a separate report, SANA says Assad has granted a general amnesty for crimes committed since the outbreak of the 10-month uprising against his rule. No other details were given.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,000 people. Syria says "terrorists" have killed about 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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