Arab League monitor resigns in disgust


ARAB LEAGUE monitor Anwar Malek has called the effort to halt violence in Syria a “farce” and has resigned in disgust.

Mr Malek, a Tunisian connected with the Paris-based Arab Committee for Human Rights, said he had spent 15 days in Homs where he “saw scenes of horror, burnt bodies, snipers everywhere shooting at civilians . . . What I saw was a humanitarian disaster.”

The regime is “committing a series of crimes against its people”, he said.

Instead of aiding the monitors, the authorities “were trying to deceive us and steer us away from what was really happening. They didn’t withdraw their tanks from the streets; they just hid them and redeployed them after we left.”

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, his wife Asma and children yesterday made a rare appearance at a pro-government rally in Damascus’s central Umayyad Square where he urged supporters to remain steadfast.

“It is important we maintain our faith in the future,” he said, “and we will undoubtedly triumph over this conspiracy” mounted by foreign powers and armed elements against his regime.

While covering another pro-regime rally in Homs, Gilles Jacquier, a correspondent for France 2 television, was killed and a Dutch cameraman wounded when their car was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Mr Jacquier was the first foreign journalist to die during the unrest in Syria. Another seven people were killed and 25 wounded, said Syria’s Dunia television.

Opposition activists reported fighting between troops and defectors in Hama province while the official Syrian news agency said four troops had been killed during an attack on a bus in the Damascus countryside.