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A Syrian rebel army chief on Jan. 17 urged the world to protect civilians in Syria, saying Arab peace monitors had failed to curb President Bashar Assad’s violent response to a 10-month-old revolt against his rule. Big powers have also proved unable to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where UN officials say more than 5,000 people have been killed and Damascus says its security forces have lost 2,000 dead.
Riad Al-Asaad, Turkish-based commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, called for international intervention to replace the Arab observer mission, which has just days to run. “The Arab League and their monitors failed in their mission and though we respect and appreciate our Arab brothers for their efforts, we think they are incapable of improving conditions in Syria or resisting this regime,” he was reported as saying.
“For that reason we call on them to turn the issue over to the UN Security Council and we ask that the international community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians at this stage than our Arab brothers,” Asaad said.
However, Syria’s powerful ally Russia on Jan. 18 said it would block any attempt by the West to secure UN support for the use of force against the regime in Damascus.