MOSCOW, December 22
Representatives of the Syrian opposition will gather for a meeting proposed by the Arab League at the beginning of 2012, the Arab media reported, citing Arab League General Secretary Nabil al-Arabi.
Al-Arabi invited Syrian opposition representatives to meet in the first week of 2010, presumably in Cairo, where the Arab League is headquartered.
The League expects the Syrian opposition to provide a list of “offers and proposals concerning the future of the country” by December 26. The document will serve as the basis for discussions at the meeting.
Al-Arabi’s statement appeared several hours after the Arab League's advance team of observers arrived in Syria to prepare all the necessary facilities for the monitoring mission.
The task of the monitoring mission is to assess the real situation in the country. In particular, mission members will investigate who is responsible for civilian deaths: whether members of the military and interior minister employees or armed militants, including foreigners, as the Syrian authorities claim.
The decision to send 500 Arab observers was made in November but the implementation of the project was postponed because of disagreements between the Arab League and Damascus concerning the status of the observers. By the beginning of the week all the disagreements were resolved and a protocol on defining the issues relating to work of the observers was signed.
The advance group, headed by al-Arabi's assistant, includes administrators and security specialists. The head of the Arab League monitoring mission, Sudan's Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Al-Dabi, will go to Damascus on Sunday.
The monitoring mission will consist of civil and military specialists. They are to be granted freedom of movement under the protection of the Syrian army.
The unrest in Syria began in March. The UN says that 5,000 people have died in clashes since then.
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