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16 April 2024

Disgusted Arab monitor quits Syria

A vehicle with punctured tyres and dented bodywork, said to be part of an Arab League convoy, is seen in Latakia in this still image taken from video uploaded on Monday. The Arab League said on Tuesday that 11 members of an Arab League team of monitors in Syria were slightly injured in an attack by unidentified demonstrators on their way to the port city of Latakia. (Reuters)

By Reuters

An Arab League observer has left Syria, saying he had witnessed "scenes of horror" that he was powerless to prevent and that the Arab monitoring team sent to the country was not acting independently.

"I withdrew because I found myself serving the (Syrian) regime," Anwar Malek told Al Jazeera television, still wearing the orange vest used by the Arab monitors.

"How was I serving the regime? I was giving the regime a greater chance to continue its killing and I could not prevent that," the Algerian said in an interview at Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.

The Arab League monitoring mission, now about 165 strong, began work on December 26.

Asked why he had quit, Malek said: "The most important thing is to have human feelings of humanity. I spent more than 15 days in Homs... I saw scenes of horror, burnt bodies... I cannot leave behind my humanity in this sort of situation."

Malek criticised the leader of the Arab League mission, Sudanese General Mohammed Al Dabi, whose suitability for the role had been questioned by human rights groups concerned about his past role in the conflict in Darfur.

"The head of the mission wanted to steer a middle course in order not to anger the (Syrian) authorities or any other side," said Malek, who had already drawn attention for critical comments he posted on Facebook while still in Syria.

A UN official told the Security Council on Tuesday that Syria had accelerated its killing of protesters after the Arab monitors arrived, the US envoy to the United Nations said.

"The under-secretary-general noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case before their deployment," ambassador Susan Rice told reporters in New York.