Algeria rejects criticism of Arab League in Syria

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Algeria rejects criticism of Arab League in Syria

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The Algerian government on Thursday downplayed suggestions from one of its former Arab League monitors in Syria that the mission was a “farce”.

The 22-member body was sent to investigate whether President Bashar al-Assad would keep his promise and halt a crackdown on protests against his rule.

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci rejected the claims by ex-observer Anwar Malek that the mission was failing to achieve anything.

He pointed to some progress made by the Assad regime during the ten-month uprising.

“The government has taken some steps. Perhaps not enough, but some steps in the sense that there has been a withdrawal of heavy weapons from the cities that are having problems now,” Medelci told reporters.

“There has been a release of a few thousand prisoners, but there are many more not yet released. And there has been an opening up of the media”.

Syria has admitted more foreign journalists since the monitors arrived.

But Damascus is facing criticism after French reporter Gilles Jacquier became the first Western journalist to be killed during the protests.

Paris is calling for investigation after the France Television war correspondent was killed during a government-approved trip to the city of Homs.