BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria on Sunday ignored another Arab League deadline to accept observers, saying it was still negotiating details of the mission to monitor a plan aimed at ending months of bloodshed.
Arab foreign ministers had warned that they would soon tighten sanctions against President Bashar Assad's increasingly isolated regime unless a protocol for the observer mission was signed Sunday. Syrian officials say they are committed to the league-negotiated plan signed last month, but have expressed concerns about the number of monitors and how they would operate.
"Messages are being exchanged between Syria and the Arab League to reach a certain vision that would facilitate the mission of observers in Syria, while preserving Syrian interests and sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told reporters in Damascus, according to the Associated Press.
Syria, which has also been sanctioned by the European Union, United States and former ally Turkey, says it has taken steps to implement the Arab League plan, including releasing hundreds of prisoners arrested in a crackdown on antigovernment protests inspired by the toppling of longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
But with no sign of a letup in the violence, the league voted late last month to suspend Syria and impose punishing measures, including halting cooperation with the country's central bank, freezing government assets and suspending funding for projects in Syria.
On Saturday, a league ministerial committee met in Doha, Qatar, to work out details of additional measures that could be implemented if Syria does not sign the agreement allowing observers into the country.