Arab League turns to UN for help in Syria

Syria President Bashar al-Assad
Damascus, Jan 5: The Arab League has turned to the United Nations for help after admitting "mistakes" in its Syria monitoring mission, which has come in for withering criticism for its failure to stem bloodletting.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, the US assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, is to hold talks with the Arab League about the Syrian crisis in Cairo on Thursday, amid mounting frustration over the unrelenting violence.

His meeting comes a day after President Bashar al-Assad's regime accused the United States of "gross interference" in Arab affairs an "unjustified attempt to internationalise" the issue.

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

"We are coming here for technical help and to see the experience the UN has, because this is the first time the Arab League is involved in sending monitors, and there are some mistakes," said Sheikh Hamad, quoted by KUNA.

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

The sheikh would not say what mistakes had been made. Syrian opposition groups say the monitors have been kept under too tight a rein in the country and that hundreds of people have been killed despite the presence of the observers.

"This is the first experience for us. I said we have to evaluate what sorts of mistakes" have been made, said the Qatari prime minister.


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