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Advance observerteam for Syriawithin three days.

Dubai Arab League Secretary-General Nabeel Al Arabi said yesterday that an advance team of observers would head to Damascus within 72 hours, after Syria inked a deal to end nine months of bloodshed.

"Within two or three days, an advance team of observers headed by Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Samir Saif Al Yazal, including security, legal and administrative observers, will be sent," Al Arabi told reporters.

Other teams would follow, he said, adding that each team would comprise 10 observers specialised in human rights, legal and security issues.

Arabi was speaking at a joint news conference at the League's headquarters in Cairo with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Al Maqdad who earlier signed a document agreeing to allow observers into Syria.

However, the executive head of the League said after the signing of a protocol on foreign observers there was no immediate plan to lift sanctions that were imposed when Damascus at first refused to allow outside monitors. Al Arabi said observers would first determine whether Syria's government was complying with the terms of the agreement.

"The protocol is a mechanism to go to Syria and move freely to ensure the implementation of the Arab initiative on Syria. What counts is good faith in implementation," Al Arabi said.

President Bashar Al Assad's administration broadly agreed last month to the Arab League peace initiative aimed at defusing a violent confrontation that has left more than 5,000 dead. But a refusal to let in outside observers had prompted other Arab states to impose sanctions.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been at the forefront of efforts to press Syria to sign the deal, but finally Syria was convinced following advice from Russia and Iraq.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Mua'alem said Damascus fully expected the observer mission to vindicate its contention that the unrest rocking the country since March was the work of armed rebels, not peaceful protesters as maintained by western governments and human rights watchdogs.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Dec 20, 2011
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