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Syrian FM says Damascus signs Arab League deal allowing observers into the country
BEIRUT (AP) ' Syria on Monday signed an Arab League agreement that will allow Arab observers into the country, officials said, as part of an effort to end the nation's increasingly blood 9-month-old crisis.
Speaking to reporters in Damascus, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the agreement was signed in Cairo after the Arab League accepted amendments demanded by Syria. An Arab League official in Cairo confirmed that Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, had signed the deal in the presence of the 22-member bloc's secretary-general, Nabil Elaraby.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
The Arab League had given Syria until Wednesday to ink the deal. It had warned that if Damascus did not, the League would likely turn to the U.N. Security Council for action to try to end the Syrian regime's crackdown on the popular uprising that the U.N. says has killed at least 5,000 people.
By signing the deal, Syria is likely trying to avoid having the U.N. take action and appears to prefer to give Arabs a chance to end a crisis that has grown increasingly violent, fueling fears that the country could slip into civil war. However, many regime opponents say President Bashar Assad is trying to gain time as he continues his crackdown.