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Syria has accepted an Arab League plan to send monitors to observe the unrest against President Bashar al-Assad and will sign a protocol to that effect, Iraq’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Syria’s acceptance of a proposal it has previously sought to amend appeared to be a last-ditch attempt to fend off sanctions being discussed by Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

“Syria has agreed fully to the protocol,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told reporters in Cairo.

There was no immediate confirmation from Syria and Arab League officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Syria is not represented at the Arab League meeting because its membership was suspended for failing to implement a League plan to end a crackdown on protests against Assad.

Zebari said Arab ministers had agreed that all violence must end in Syria, where the United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in eight months of unrest.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe gave more details of his proposal for a “secured zone to protect civilians” in Syria and said he would propose it to the Arab ministers in Cairo.

He said international monitors should be sent to protect civilians, with or without Assad’s permission. He insisted the proposal fell short of a military intervention, but acknowledged that humanitarian convoys would need protection.

“There are two possible ways: that the international community, Arab League and the United Nations can get the regime to allow these humanitarian corridors,” he told French radio. “But if that isn’t the case we’d have to look at other solutions … with international observers.”

Reuters

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