SYRIA- The United Nations has received a formal request from the Arab League to start training observers monitoring the crackdown in Syria, Arab media reported Tuesday, quoting UN sources.
The training is to be conducted by staff from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya.
The UN said in early January that it was ready to help the observer mission, which has faced widespread criticism from the Syrian opposition, but that it was waiting for a request from the Arab League.
Meanwhile, The teams of the AL observer mission in Syria continued their daily tours of Syrian provinces and met the released prisoners according to Decree No. 10, according to state-run SANA news agency.
SANA also reports on Tuesday that an "armed terrorist group" has launched rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint outside the capital, killing an army officer and five soldiers.
Syria's state media, SANA, said Tuesday that an officer and five army personnel were killed in an ambush late Monday about 6 miles (9 kilometers) southwest of Damascus.
On Tuesday too and on the other side of story, the Syrian opposition reported more defections among the Syrian army.
Brigadier General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh was shown in a clip posted on YouTube, showing his identity card to a cheering crowd and standing in front of the green, white and black flags of the opposition.
But despite the defections, military experts still believe that President al-Assad is largely in control of his 300,000 troops.
The Syrian Free Army, which groups defectors, called on Monday “for immediate UN interference in the Syrian crisis.”
Press reports abroad quoted Syrian activists saying Tuesday that the Syrian army was continuing for the third consecutive day its` shelling of areas in the western Zabadani region, prompting hundreds of residents to flee.
Buses loaded with people and their belongings were seen in videos posted on opposition websites, fleeing the Zabadani area, near the eastern Syrian-Lebanese border.
Clashes reports at Homs, near Idleb and Hama were circulating too, according to activists accounts online.
Foreign and International media agencies added as usual that Press reports about Syria cannot confirm the claims by opposition groups of violence and deaths as Syria's government has limited access by foreign journalists. A number of journalists have been allowed in to the country in recent days to travel with Arab League monitors.
The current monitoring mission in Syria is due to submit its second report to the Arab League on Thursday, ahead of an Arab foreign ministers’ meeting on Saturday in Cairo to decide the future of the mission.
Some 165 Arab observers have been deployed in Syria since late December to try to verify if Damascus is complying with an Arab League deal to halt its crackdown on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab League is to meet on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the findings of its peace monitoring mission to the country. It has so far ruled out seeking United Nations support, but that might change, particularly after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, called at the weekend for Arab troops to be sent to intervene.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, made an unusual appeal for action by his own Security Council, which has so far been prevented from taking a position by Syria's strategic allies, Russia and China.
"The situation has reached an unacceptable point," he said at an energy summit in Abu Dhabi also attended by the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao
"I sincerely hope that the Security Council will handle this in a sense of seriousness and gravity and in a coherent manner." Ban added.
More than 5,000 people have died since government crackdown on dissidents began, according to UN estimates.
Syrian authorities accuse “terrorists” of causing the violence, saying 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed.