Arab observers fan out across Syria

Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:21pm GMT

By Mariam Karouny and Erika Solomon

(Reuters) - Arab monitors head to three more Syrian cities on Thursday to check if government forces are complying with a peace plan after a delegation to Homs, centre of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, was mobbed by a protesters demanding protection.

The Arab League mission, the first international involvement on the ground in Syria since the revolt began last March, got off to a controversial start when its Sudanese leader said he had seen "nothing frightening" on his first trip to Homs.

He later said he needed more time to make an assessment of the city, which was pounded by government firepower in the days before the visit.

The observers briefly visit Homs on Tuesday then returned to Wednesday with an army escort, to the dismay of demonstrators who mobbed their car.

They finally went back to Baba Amr district, one of the worst-hit, to see shattered houses and hear from people who have lost friends and relatives. One family showed them a dead boy.

They are likely to witness similar scenes on Thursday when they visit Deraa, Hama and Idlib, all cities where anti-Assad demonstrations have been violently repressed.

The observers' leader, Sudanese General Mustafa al-Dabi, said the mission was still in its early days.

"We have 20 people who will be there (in Homs) for a long time," he said.   Continued...

This still image taken from video off a social media website uploaded as December 28, 2011, shows purported members of "Free Syrian Army" (military defectors) firing at a convoy of government security buses in the village of Dael, near Deraa REUTERS/via Reuters Tv/Handout
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.