By Ria Novosti
Gulf Arab States began on Tuesday to withdraw their 55 observers, who were part of the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria, the head of the Arab League’s Cairo operations room, Adnan al-Khudeir, said.
Earlier, the Gulf Cooperation Council decided to withdraw its observers from Syria, despite the decisions of the Arab League to extend the mandate of the mission for another month.
Ahmed bin Heli, the Arab League deputy secretary-general, said observers from the Gulf Cooperation Council will be replaced by experts from other Arab and Islamic states.
“Several Arab and Islamic states have already stated their readiness to send specialists to join the League’s group of observers in Syria in place of the recalled representatives from the Gulf Arab States,” Ahmed bin Heli said.
He added that the rotation of experts would not influence the activities of the League’s group of observers and the work would continue as scheduled.
The Arab League during an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday night agreed to extend the mandate of the observer mission for one more month. Moreover, the head of the observer mission, Sudanese General Mohamed Al-Dhabi, said at a press conference in Cairo that the arrival of the observers in Syria had a positive impact on the situation in the country and had led to a reduction in violence. He also said that the Syrian leadership had removed heavy armor from the cities and freed 2,239 prisoners in only two days.
The European Union foreign ministers on Monday adopted new sanctions against Syria. The sanctions target 22 top Syrian officials and eight companies with a ban on travel to the EU and a freeze on assets in Europe.
The EU has already agreed 10 rounds of sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with some 120 people and companies targeted so far by an EU assets freeze and travel ban. It is also enforcing an arms embargo and a ban on imports of Syrian crude oil.
The EU move comes after Syria rejected an Arab League plan for Assad to transfer power to his deputy and make way for a national unity government. The UN estimates that more than 5,400 people have died since March in the crackdown on democracy protests.