3 more Arab League monitors quit, aid group barred

Arab League monitorsBEIRUT: Many monitors in the Arab League’s troubled mission to Syria are angry over what they see as its failure to halt attacks on protesters and more are likely to pull out in protest, an Algerian monitor said on Thursday.

Anwar Malek, who withdrew from the monitoring team this week, said three colleagues had already left Syria because they believed their two-week-old operation had done nothing to stem President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on dissent. “We were giving them cover to carry out the most repugnant actions, worse than what was taking place before the monitors came,” he said.

However, the head of Arab League monitors dismissed Malek’s comments as untrue. “Gen. Mohammed Al-Dabi, the head of the Arab monitors’ mission to Damascus, has confirmed that what the Malek said to a satellite channel does not relate to the truth in any way,” the Arab League said in a statement.“Since he was assigned to the Homs team, Malek did not leave the hotel for six days and did not go out with the rest of the team into the field giving the excuse that he was sick,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, a Russian ship, allegedly carrying tons of weapons, made a dash for Syria after Cypriot officials allowed it to leave their waters, Turkish officials said Thursday. The ship had made an unscheduled stop in Cyprus Tuesday, technically violating an EU embargo on arms shipments to Syria.In another development, organizers said Syrian authorities have barred hundreds of activists from crossing into the country to deliver aid to crackdown victims.About 200 activists, mostly Syrians traveling from countries that include Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France, and US, gathered on the Turkish side of the border Thursday to protest the violence and deliver truckloads of food, medical aid and other supplies. – Arab news