Arab League Sending 135 New Monitors to Syria

League hopes more observers will lead to decreased violence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2012 8:54 AM CST
Arab League Sending 135 New Monitors to Syria
Arab League observers, with the orange jackets, attend a mass prayer for the people and army soldiers who were killed during the violence around the country, in Damascus, Syria, on Jan. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)

Amid concerns that its monitors are not making much of a difference in Syria, Arab League officials have decided to almost double the number of observers in the country in an effort to put more pressure on the regime. At a meeting yesterday, League members decided to bring the total number of monitors to 300, up from 165 in Syria currently, the Wall Street Journal reports. The team has until Jan. 19 to report whether the regime has ended its crackdown on protesters, as it agreed to do.

Even as the League met yesterday, 15 civilians were reportedly killed across Syria; activists say that regime forces have killed as many as 450 since the observers arrived just shy of two weeks ago. Though pro-democracy activists initially criticized the Arab League mission, many are beginning to come around, showing that the situation is improving at least somewhat. Says the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, "If we have more observers on the ground, the Syrian regime will be scared to kill more people." (More Arab League stories.)

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