First Arab monitors arrive in Syria, Homs
Cairo - The first group of Arab monitors arrived in Syria on Monday to assess whether Damascus is adhering to a plan to end a nine-month crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, a member of the Arab delegation in Damascus said.
"They arrived at about 20:00," said the source, who was speaking by telephone from Damascus after meeting the monitors at the airport.
Fifty monitors and 10 officials from the Arab League secretariat flew on a private Egyptian aircraft, a Cairo airport source said. The observer mission will eventually include about 150 people, League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told Reuters last week.
The head of observer mission, Sudanese General Mustafa al-Dabi, arrived in Damascus on Saturday. He went to Syria shortly after an advance team of Arab League officials went to Syria to arrange terms and logistics for the mission.
Arab League observers have moved to the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs but are unable to do their job, the head of the country's main opposition group said on Monday.
Syrian National Council (SNC) head Burhan Ghaliun told reporters at a Paris news conference that some of the observers were in the besieged city "but they are saying they cannot go where the authorities do not want them to go".
He also sought UN and Arab League intervention "to put an end to this tragedy," and urged the United Nations Security Council to "adopt the Arab League's plan and ensure that it is applied".
Heavy gunfire killed 23 people in the besieged city on Monday.