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Arab League heads to Syria


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Arab League  heads to Syria

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(CNN) — Dozens of Arab League observers were expected to arrive Monday in Syria amid reports of raging violence, despite the government’s agreement to end a brutal crackdown.
In recent weeks, the government has increased attacks that left scores dead, including many in the flashpoint city of Homs, opposition groups say.
Opposition activist Danielle Moussa, whose group was working to retrieve bodies, said elite government units in tanks were bombarding Homs on Monday under the command of Maher al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCS) reported 23 people were killed Monday, 22 of them in Homs and one in Harasta, near Damascus.
The Arab League mission will visit Homs on Tuesday, a senior Arab League official told CNN.
The LCCS said a member of the Arab League observatory mission was wounded by gunfire Monday from security forces.
Syrian state-run news agency SANA had no immediate response to that report.
CNN cannot independently verify opposition accounts of violence or reports of deaths and injuries in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad’s government has restricted access to international journalists.
SANA reported on burials of “martyrs” from the army and security forces who were killed by “armed terrorist groups” — the phrase Syria has used to describe some opposition forces throughout the uprising.
Some of the security forces were killed in dual bombings that targeted Syria’s security apparatus in the capital of Damascus on Friday.
Syria said those attacks killed “more than 44 civilians and military members” and wounded 166 others.
One SANA report cited an Egyptian official as saying he hoped the Arab League mission will help serve as “an initial step towards a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis.”
But many Syrians question how effective the mission will be.
“We are concerned that the Arab League’s mission is not clear enough” and might not be adequately transparent, said Abdel Karim Rihawi, head of Syrian Human Rights League. He also complained that “90% of the retired military and diplomatic experts on the observatory mission are over 60” and the other 10% are youths who “do not have enough field experience to maintain a fact-finding mission.”
 

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