Arab League rebuffs Syria on monitors

Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:31am EST
 
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By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN (Reuters) - The Arab League said on Sunday it had rebuffed a request by Damascus to amend plans for a 500-strong monitoring mission to Syria, after President Bashar al-Assad vowed to continue his crackdown and said he would not surrender to outside pressure.

Within hours of Assad ignoring a deadline to halt repression of protesters, residents said two rocket-propelled grenades hit a major ruling party building in Damascus on Sunday, the first such reported attack by insurgents inside the capital.

Confronted since March by street demonstrations against 41 years of rule by his family, Assad said he had no choice but to pursue his crackdown on unrest because his foes were armed.

"The conflict will continue and the pressure to subjugate Syria will continue. Syria will not bow down," he told Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby rejected Syria's request to alter a plan for the fact-finding mission -- which would include military personnel and human rights experts -- in a letter to Syria's foreign minister.

"The additions requested by the Syrian counterpart affect the heart of the protocol and fundamentally change the nature of the mission," said the letter, released by the Arab League.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the plan as it stood compromised the country's sovereignty but Damascus had not rejected the mission

Moualem said the proposed mission has "pervasive jurisdiction that reaches the level of ... violating Syrian sovereignty" and said he would send the Arab League a letter with questions about its role.   Continued...