Middle East

UN to train Syria Arab League monitors

An Arab league observer writes the names of freed Syrian prisoners as they are released from Adra Prison on the north-east outskirts of Damascus
Many in Syria's opposition have accused the observers of being ineffective

The United Nations is to begin training Arab League observers monitoring the uprising in Syria.

The training will begin in Cairo after Arab League foreign ministers meet this weekend to discuss the progress of the mission so far, a UN spokesperson said.

The training is to be carried out by staff of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, activists said another 15 people died across Syria on Monday, including five defecting soldiers.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, a network of opposition activists inside Syria, said in a statement that the dead also included two women and two children.

At least 5,000 people have died since the beginning of an anti-government uprising in March, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says.

Casualty figures are hard to verify as most foreign media are barred from Syria.

Also on Monday, an "armed terrorist group" shot dead Brigadier-General Mohammed Abdulhamid al-Awad and wounded his driver in the countryside near Damascus, according to state-run news agency Sana.

The government says 2,000 security personnel have died in similar clashes with armed groups.

Attacks on government targets by the Free Syrian Army, a group of army defectors, have been rising, raising fears of a slide into civil war.

Many in Syria's opposition movement say the presence of the Arab League observer mission is failing to stem the violence as President Bashar al-Assad's government continues to crack down on opposition.

Some have been calling for the UN to take a greater role in monitoring the crisis.

In a statement, the Free Syrian Army called on the Arab League to "quickly transfer the case of Syria to the UN Security Council," AFP reports.

The statement appealed to the international community to "act quickly against the regime through Chapter 7 of the UN Charter".

On Saturday, the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, said Arab countries should send troops into Syria to end the bloodshed.

It is the first time an Arab leader has publicly called for military intervention in Syria.