Monitors from the Arab League are due in Syria today, though the violence has only increased.
New reports state that 20 people were killed by gunfire from government forces, bringing the death toll to nearly 275 in the past week. Monitors from the Arab League are due in the country today as part of a peace treaty signed by Syria. They are there to monitor the cessation of violence, withdrawal of Syrian forces and release of political prisoners.
Opposition leaders fear that Syrian officials will not heed the warning of the Arab League. One leader, Waleed al-Bunni told reporters, “I very much doubt the Syrian regime will allow the observers to do their work."
He continued, “I expect them to try and hinder their movements by claiming that some areas are not safe, intimidating them or sending them to places other than the ones they should go to.”
On Friday, twin blasts rocked the city of Damascus and killed 40. Government officials stated that the blasts were the work of terrorists, though opposition blamed the government.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the American Foreign Press: “We are going to do all we can to facilitate the Arab League mission.” Many Syrians, and world leaders, doubt whether the government will actually follow through on its part of the peace treaty.
Arab League monitor Mohamed Salem al-Kaaby told Reuters, “The element of surprise will be present. We will inform the Syrian side the areas we will visit on the same day so that there will be no room to direct monitors or change realities on the ground by either side.”
President Bashar al-Assad has denied any wrongdoing or instruction to kill protesters, though a report issued by Human Rights Watch disputes this. The report focuses on the stories of 63 government defectors who say they received orders to stop the protests “by all means necessary.”
President Barak Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for Assad to step aside in order to allow Syrians the opportunity to progress toward democracy.