DAMASCUS, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- A 50-member Arab League (AL) monitor group arrived here late Monday as part of a plan to end Syria's months-long unrest, amid ongoing violence and "terrorist" attacks.
Local news website Syria-News quoted a member of the Arab delegation as saying the first group of observers had arrived to monitor the situation on the ground as part of an AL-brokered peace plan.
Mission head Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mostafa al-Dabi flew to Damascus Saturday evening with a few assistants, a day after twin suicide bombings rocked two security centers in the capital, killing at least 44 and wounding 166 others.
It was the worst violence since protests erupted against President Bashar al-Assad in mid-March.
The monitoring mission is to ensure the Syrian government abides by its commitment to end its crackdown on protesters under the peace plan.
Dabi said Monday monitoring had begun in Damascus, and monitors would go to other cities on Tuesday, including the third largest city, Homs, which has seen continuous violence between government forces and army defectors.
He said the Syrian government had co-orperated well, and had not put any restriction on the monitoring.
The AL peace plan requires the government to remove its security forces and heavy weapons from urban streets, start talks with opposition leaders and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.
Syria signed the AL observer protocol last week in Cairo after the AL threatened to refer the crisis to the United Nations Security Council.
Dabi told a press conference on Saturday that the suicide car bomb attacks on the intelligence department's headquarters and the regional security branch in central Damascus would not hamper the mission's work in any way.
The Syrian authorities have blamed the twin bombings on al-Qaida, but no one has yet claimed responsibility.
Syria has been beset by violence in the past few days. According to state-run SANA news agency, "armed terrorist groups" on Monday carried out attacks against civilians and law enforcement forces in southern Syria's Daraa province, killing a soldier and wounding eight others.
The Syrian forces killed and wounded a number of terrorists, and seized their weapons and other equipment, SANA said.
The report also said tens of terrorists had voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
Also on Monday, SANA said military engineering units dismantled four hand-made explosive devices weighing between 3 and 25 kg that were planted near a fuel station in Daraa.
And in the flashpoint town of Homs, Syrian government forces killed two "terrorists" on Saturday.
On the same day, an armed terrorist group killed an ambulance driver near a hospital in Homs after firing at the vehicle.
Moreover, foreign news media quoted city residents in Homs as saying that Syrian government tanks pounded neighbourhoods of the city on Monday, killing more than 30 people. But Syria has not confirmed the information officially.
People in major Syrian cities have become increasingly worried about terrorist attacks, especially after Friday's car bomb attacks.
On the international arena, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the AL observer mission would help protect the Syrian people and stabilize the situation there.
"We welcome the signature of the protocol on the AL observer mission to Syria, which gives an opportunity to protect all Syrian citizens and stabilize the situation using the mechanism of independent control on the ground," Lavrov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Lavrov reiterated that, during 2011, Russia had been trying to stop violence in the Middle East and North Africa, to support human rights, and to resolve the conflicts peacefully through a national dialogue between all political, religious, and ethnic groups.
He said Moscow was ready to continue equal and mutual benefit partnership relations with the countries in that region.
The Syrian government said last week a total of 2,000 army and security personnel were killed during the nine-month-old unrest. However, a United Nations' tally claims more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed.
AL sends 50 observers to Syria
CAIRO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Arab League (AL) sent 50 observers to Syria on Monday as part of its plan to stop the violence in the unrest-hit country.
AL chief Nabil el-Arabi had met with the delegation before their departure on Monday afternoon. Arabi asked the observers to keep neutral when carrying out their mission in Syria. Full story
Syrian opposition party invites foreign journalists to cover unrest on ground
DAMASCUS, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- A Syrian opposition group has urged foreign media to come to Syria and cover the country's unrest on the ground, offering journalists conveniences such as opportunities to have interviews with "activists and ex-political prisoners" and field trips to the restive areas.
In a statement emailed to Xinhua Monday, the opposition party named Tayyar Binaa Syria also called on journalists to report the obstacles from the government they might face so "we can report it to the Arab League." Full story