Syrian FM says agreement on observers signed

December 19, 2011 - 7:20 AM
Mideast Syria

Syrian demonstrators raise posters showing Syria's President Bashar Assad as they perform an oath to defend their country at Sabe Bahrat square in downtown Damascus, Syria, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, during a rally to support President Bashar Assad. Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters after Friday prayers at several locations around the country, while the army sent reinforcements into a southern area where military defectors recently launched deadly attacks on regime troops. ( AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's Foreign Minister says Damascus has signed an Arab League agreement allowing Arab observers into the country.

Speaking in Damascus, Walid al-Moallem says the agreement was signed "a while ago" in Cairo. He says the deal was signed after the Arab League accepted amendments demanded by Syria.

An Arab League official in Cairo confirmed the deal was signed Monday by Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad.

The Arab League had given Syria until Wednesday to sign the deal. It had warned that if Damascus does not, the League says it will likely turn to the U.N. Security Council for action to try to end the Syrian regime's crackdown on a 9-month-old popular uprising.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CAIRO (AP) — Syria's deputy foreign minister has arrived in Cairo and is expected to sign an agreement allowing Arab observers into the country.

The Arab League has given Syria until Wednesday to sign the deal. If Damascus does not, the League says it will likely turn to the U.N. Security Council for action to try to end the Syrian regime's crackdown on a 9-month-old popular uprising.

An Egyptian airport official speaking on condition of anonymity says deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad landed in Cairo Monday.

The pro-government Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that Mekdad will sign the agreement in Cairo.

The U.N. says President Bashar Assad's crackdown has killed more than 5,000 people.