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‘Both sides in Syrian conflict should be subject to investigation’

Thousands of people have rallied in the Syrian city of Homs, emboldened by the Arab League observers' visit to the country. But journalist Pepe Escobar says the monitors will have to investigate both the official and the opposition armies.

Government tanks were reported to have withdrawn from Syria’s third-largest city hours before the Arab League observers arrived in the area. By that time around thirty people had been killed in the latest violence there.Syria’s opposition forces cannot possibly prevail over the heavily armed official army, says Pepe Escobar, a columnist and correspondent for the Asia Times, who believes the deployment of tanks and the continuing crackdown should be investigated. But Escobar insists that the actions of the Syrian opposition forces should also be subject to scrutiny. The opposition has a two-prong strategy. One part of it is the Syrian National Council, “the brave diplomatic face of the opposition,” which meets in Istanbul and Paris and talks to the international mass media. And then there is the Free Syrian Army, which is doing the actual fighting in the country, says Escobar. “These are mercenaries and defectors armed by outside powers. These outside powers are basically from Qatar and the Emirates,” he adds. “They come and go. They are rag-tag bands, basically. They cannot fight the Syrian army, they cannot fight tanks.”These bands will have to be investigated along with the tanks and the crackdown, insists the journalist, but the 50 observers the Arab League has sent in are not enough to investigate the activities even in the city of Homs, not to mention in the whole country.“This will be a long cat-and-mouse game,” concludes Escobar. Paolo Raffone, a political analyst and founder of CIPI Research, a Brussels-based think tank, says the Arab League observers’ visit is not to likely to bring any immediate solution to Syria or take any stand in the conflict. “I do not expect that the final report will be too harsh on one side or another. It would certainly acknowledge the events that they see, but they would not give any hint towards a real solution,” Raffone told RT.