The sheikh would not say what mistakes had been made
AFP is using pictures from alternative sources as it was not authorised to cover this event and is not responsible for any alterations to the content which cannot be independently verified. An image grab taken from YouTube shows Arab League observers in Dael, southern Syria. Qatar's prime minister sought UN help with an Arab League monitor mission in Syria saying it had made "mistakes." © - AFP/YouTube
The sheikh would not say what mistakes had been made
Last updated: January 5, 2012

Qatar PM: Arab League mission made mistakes in Syria

The head of the Free Syrian Army Thursday called on the Arab League to admit that its observer mission to the country is a failure, urging the bloc to seek UN help to end almost 10 months of bloodshed.

Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad's statement came as 11 more people were reported killed in Syria and after the Arab League turned to the United Nations for help and admitted "mistakes" in its almost two-week old mission.

A UN spokesman said, meanwhile, that the observers could receive UN training to help them in their mission.

The "Syrian Revolution 2011" group, one of the driving forces on the Internet behind the uprising, called on Facebook for demonstrations on Friday to urge the "internationalisation of our cause."

Asaad, in a telephone interview with AFP in Beirut, said: "We hope they will announce that their mission was a failure.

"We call on the Arab League to step aside and let the United Nations take over responsibility as it is more apt to find solutions."

Arab ministers meet on Sunday at the bloc's Cairo headquarters to discuss the mission which has come in for scathing criticism this week from Syrian democracy activists who denounced it as "unprofessional."

"We, and all the Syrian people, want the United Nations to step in because the Arabs are not capable of taking any real decisions when it comes to Syria," Asaad told AFP.

The observers have been in Syria since December 26, trying to assess the implementation by President Bashar al-Assad's regime of a peace accord aimed at ending its deadly crackdown on protests that erupted in March.

Asaad charged that the regime was misleading the monitors and using all means to circumvent the deal it signed with the League.

"Authorities, for example, transferred prison inmates to army barracks where the observers are not allowed according to the protocol," said Asaad.

"Military vehicles are painted blue and identified as 'anti-terrorist police' to make believe that it's the police" that is battling what the regime calls "armed gangs," he said.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, US assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, held talks with League officials in Cairo about the crisis which the UN estimates has killed more than 5,000 people since March.

There was more bloodshed on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

At least 11 people were killed, nine of them shot by regime forces in a village east of the protest hub of Deir Ezzor, a statement said.

With violence continuing unabated, two leading opposition groups have agreed to resolve a rift and unite against Assad's regime, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said after talks with the two in Brussels.

Reynders said divisions were "playing in the hands of the Syrian regime," and urged a "unified opposition platform" between the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NBC), his office said.

Last week the SNC and NCB inked an agreement outlining a "transitional period" should Assad's regime be toppled. But on Tuesday the SNC said in a Facebook posting that the document "conflicts" with its political programme.

Also on Thursday, Assad's regime said it released 552 people detained for involvement in the unrest, taking to almost 4,000 the number freed since the start of November in line with Arab League demands.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, who heads an Arab League task force on Syria, discussed the deadly crackdown with UN leader Ban Ki-moon in New York on Wednesday.

A UN spokesman said Ban and the sheikh "discussed practical measures by which the United Nations could support the observer mission of the Arab League in Syria."

But the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA quoted Hamad as saying he was seeking UN "technical help," "because this is the first time the Arab League is involved in sending monitors, and there are some mistakes."

On Thursday UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told a briefing that UN human rights experts may train the Arab monitors. "This is something that is under discussion with the League of Arab states for the moment," he said.

Syrian opposition groups both criticised the monitors and accused the authorities of keeping them under too tight a rein.

The Local Coordination Committees, which organise protests, have labelled the mission "unprofessional" and said Assad's regime was finding it easy to deceive the observers.

"Soldiers wear police uniforms, drive repainted military vehicles and change the names of places, but this does not mean the army withdrew from cities and streets, or that the regime is applying the provisions of the Arab protocol," they said.

The LCC group estimates that at least 390 people have been killed since the observers began their mission.

France also called on the League to strengthen its mission with UN backing.

"We encourage the Arab League to use all means possible to strengthen this mission so that observers can move independently throughout Syrian territory and have all necessary contact with Syrian civil society," said a spokesman.

The White House has said it is "past time" for the UN Security Council to act, but Syria denounced the US for "gross interference" in Arab affairs and "an unjustified attempt to internationalise" the issue.

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