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Syria signs deal to allow Arab League monitors

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Muzaffar Salman/AP

(Read caption) Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria's President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria, Dec. 19. Syria signed an Arab League initiative Monday that will allow Arab observers into the country as part of peace deal that aims to end the nation's increasingly bloody 9-month-old crisis, Syria's foreign minister said.

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The Syrian government has signed an agreement to let international monitors into the country, finally accepting the last requirement of an Arab League deal to end the violence wracking Syria.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad signed the agreement at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Monday, according to both a Reuters witness and an Arab League diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, reports Haaretz

The Associated Press writes that Syria likely agreed to Arab League proposal to avoid UN involvement in the country's upheaval, though regime critics argue that it is only a delaying tactic by President Bashar al-Assad while Syrian forces attempt to crush anti-government resistance.

Syria had previously agreed to the plan, which includes withdrawal of its army from Syrian towns and cities, the release of thousands of political prisoners, and opening dialogue with the opposition. But Damascus subsequently balked on terms requiring Syria to open its borders to Arab League monitors, and instead continued to attack protesters. The UN last week estimated that at least 5,000 people have now been killed during the upheaval, which began in March.

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