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Syria pipeline explodes as Arab League mission limps on

The government blamed a Syria pipeline explosion today on 'terrorists.' Meanwhile, concerns mount that the Arab League mission to Syria won't stop the fighting.

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France’s foreign minister has publicly stated he is “skeptical” of the mission, but members of the Arab League have defended it, saying that it has resulted in the withdrawal of tanks from cities and the release of political prisoners. Nabil al-Arabi, chief of the Arab League, told Agence France-Presse that he planned to raise concerns about on-going violence with Assad, saying, “the aim is to stop the shooting and protect civilians.” Still he added that “it is difficult to say who is firing on whom.”

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The Arab monitoring mission has also taken considerable criticism for appointing Lt. Gen. Muhammad Ahmed al-Dabi of Sudan, an Arab League member, as the head of the Syria delegation. The general formerly ran Sudan’s military intelligence agency; human rights activists have accused him of enforcing brutal government crackdowns. Mr. Dabi’s history has led to questions whether he can objectively assess the situation in Syria, which he has thus far downplayed.

“I don’t know if they looked into his background,” said Faisal Mohammed Salih, a columnist with the Sudanese newspaper Al Akhbar in an interview with The New York Times. “This is a human rights mission. They should have chosen someone who is sensitive to human rights issues. Military men in the Arab world should be the last choice for such missions.”

Amid the ongoing bloodshed, some are now wondering if the situation will require the intervention of international forces to bring an end to the fighting.

“I don't think they [the Arab League observers] are capable of doing anything. A different strategy that would rely on the Syrian people themselves to be able to mount their own uprising to overthrow the regime could have been the real strategy. Otherwise the affairs of running Syria and undertaking change in the country are going to be left, like in Libya, to NATO,” said Asad Abukhalil, a professor of political science at California State University during an interview with Al Jazeera.

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