UPDATE 1-Arab monitor quits Syria mission in disgust

Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:03am GMT

(Recasts, adds quotes)

BEIRUT Jan 11 (Reuters) - An Arab League observer has left Syria, accusing the authorities of committing war crimes and turning the Arab monitoring mission sent to check its compliance with a peace plan into a "farce".

"They didn't withdraw their tanks from the streets, they just hid them and redeployed them after we left," Anwar Malek told Al Jazeera English television at its headquarters in Qatar, still wearing one of the orange vests used by the monitors.

"The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians. People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and no one has been released," the Algerian former observer said. "Those who are supposedly freed and shown on TV are actually people who had been randomly grabbed off the streets."

The Arab League monitoring mission, now about 165 strong, began work on Dec. 26. Its task is to verify if Syria is complying with an agreement to halt a crackdown on 10 months of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed.

Malek's resignation was the latest blow to a mission already criticised for inefficiency and whose members have come under attack this week from both Assad supporters and protesters.

"The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled," Malek said. "The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime.

"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn't committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people," he added.

Syria has barred most independent media, making it difficult to verify conflicting accounts of events on the ground.   Continued...

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