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Arab observers face tough mission in Syria: China

Beijing urges all parties in Syria to cooperate with Arab League fact-finding mission after three observers are injured in Latakia

AFP , Thursday 12 Jan 2012
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China's envoy to the Middle East Wu Sike on Thursday said Arab League observers were facing "difficulties" in Syria, urging the government and other factions there to cooperate with the monitors.

Wu made the remarks after talks with Arab League chief Nabil El-Arabi at the bloc's Cairo headquarters, days after three monitors were slightly hurt in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia.

"The Syrian government and other Syrian parties should provide suitable conditions to allow the observers to carry out their work," Wu told reporters.

He said the mission launched on 26 December had faced "some difficulties" and voiced regret for attacks in the past few days targeting observers in Syria.

"We hope the observers will be patient and pursue their efforts until they achieve their goal for the sake of Syria and its people," he added, when asked about reports that some monitors had quit the mission.

Two Kuwaiti monitors and one observer from the Arab League were slightly wounded in an attack on their convoy in Latakia on Monday.

An Arab League official on Wednesday said the trio had suffered "minor cuts" when protesters broke the window of their vehicle.

It was the first reported attack against observers since they launched a mission mandated by the Arab League, and approved by Syria, to implement a peace plan to end months of violence that has killed thousands.

The Arab League decided to put on hold a weekend decision to send more monitors to Syria to boost the 163 observers already deployed in the country, despite mounting criticism of the operation, a league official said Wednesday.

He also dismissed remarks by an Algerian monitor who said he had quit the Syria mission and accused the regime of war crimes, saying all his claims were unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

After Monday's attack, El-Arabi said he was holding Syria responsible for the observers' mission. "The Arab League is keen on the pursuit of the mission in a secure atmosphere so as not to be obliged to freeze the operation," El-Arabi said.

China is a key Syrian ally, and, along with Russia, has used its veto at the UN Security Council to block a Western-backed resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for his government's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

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