The Arab League Observers began on Tuesday, December 27th their mission in Syria starting with the city of Homs, the epicenter of the anti-Assad popular protest that began mid-March. Since then, the reassuring statements from the League’s Committee seem to contradict what the city habitants’ experience. Activists filmed the movements of the observers. Their videos allow showing what the pan-Arab organization’s delegation saw.
The Arab League’s envoys had declared on their arrival Monday’s evening, December 26th that the Syrian regime was “very cooperative.” After a first day in Homs, the head of the commission even said that there was “nothing to worry about in Homs“
However, upon arrival at Homs on Tuesday, observers were detained by the inhabitants despite the presence of Syrian officials on their side. On one video, some people urged a Syrian official not to hide the truth; members of the Arab League refused to answer questions. Then we hear shots.
After the shooting, the head of the observers visited a street in the district of Baba Amr which had been shelled the day before, Dec 26th, by the army, causing several casualties.
None of the observer went that day to Khaldiyeh. Yet more than 20 000 demonstrators gathered in the area. Observers have not seen then the intervention of the security forces, which killed eight people.
Demonstration on Tuesday in Khaldiyeh. The message written on the paper: “Protection for the remaining inhabitants of Homs.”
Wednesday 28th, observers went again to Baba Amr.
This time, they were not supervised by Syrian officials. The residents were able to tell them in detail the repression they suffered, as these two women whose sons got imprisoned.
The observers toured the streets later on where shops’ fronts have been completely ravaged by the machine guns.
They saw the remains of one victim, Ahmed Arra’i, a 5 year old child shot in the back. These are people who stopped their car. They accused them of fleeing the day before not to see the bodies of their martyrs. The observers explain not being able to stay because they had to write reports. Inflexible, people ordered them to accompany them almost to see the remains of the child.
The observers accompany then the people inside the mosque where the remains of the child. They recite few verses and film the body.
Besides the remains of the victims, the delegation of the Arab League also had the opportunity to see the presence of tanks in Homs, which contradicts the commitments made by the Syrian regime.
When they are not escorted by Syrian officials, the observers share more readily with the people. Their words seem so at odds with the official statements of the head of the commission. In this video, an observer is talking to a resident that speaking of “chabbihas” (the regime’s militias). He said, “You do not even imagine that we could come. Trust us. We know that there are dead, we filmed everything. We only ask you to be cooperative.”
All these images filmed by the people of Homs show that observers of the Arab League are aware of the extent of repression perpetrated by the regime. While the Syrian authorities argue likely, as usual, they are fighting armed terrorists, not protesters. Remains to be seen what will be the content of the report of the Committee. A critical report.