Two Arab League monitors quit Syria amid conflicting claims

AFP , Thursday 12 Jan 2012

Head of league's Syria mission challenges claims by Algerian monitor that Al-Assad regime is guilty of war crimes

Two Arab League monitors in Syria have quit, officials said on Thursday, as the head of the operation accused an Algerian observer who resigned of making unfounded claims about the operation.

"Two monitors have excused themselves – an Algerian and a Sudanese," Syria operations chief Adnan Khodeir said at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

He said that the Algerian monitor quit "for health reasons," while the Sudanese "was returning to his country for personal reasons."

On Wednesday, Algerian Anwar Malek told Doha-based Al Jazeera that he had quit the mission and accused the Syrian regime of committing a series of war crimes against its people and of duping his colleagues.

But the head of the mission slammed Malek's claims as "baseless" because, since his deployment to the flashpoint city of Homs in central Syria, he stayed in his hotel room and did not join other observers in the field.

"What observer Anwar Malek said on satellite television is baseless," General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa Al-Dabi, former head of Sudanese military intelligence, who leads the operations in Syria, said in a statement.

"Malek was deployed to Homs as part of a team, but for six days he did not leave his room and did not join members of the team on the ground, pretending he was sick," Al-Dabi said in the statement.

He echoed remarks by an unnamed Arab League official who had said that Malek was bedridden throughout his assignment in Homs and that his accusations were unfounded.

"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn't committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people," the Algerian observer had told Al Jazeera.

"The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled. The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime," he said.

According to Al-Dabi, the Algerian monitor requested leave for medical treatment in Paris but departed before waiting for the green light.

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Nabil El-Arabi told a private Egyptian television station late Wednesday that reports he was receiving from Al-Dabi on the mission were "extremely worrying."

Earlier this week, El-Arabi warned that the mission – launched on 26 December to end the Syrian regime's crackdown on democracy protesters – could be suspended after three monitors were hurt in an attack.

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