Snipers 'everywhere,' Syrian observer says

Jan. 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

ALGIERS, Algeria, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Government snipers are "everywhere" in Syria and the regime is likely responsible for a multitude of crimes, a former Arab League observer said.

The Syrian government gave the Arab League permission to monitor pledges made in Cairo last year to pull military forces from the streets. Critics of the regime accuse the Syrians of being selective in what they allow the Arab team to observe.

Anwar Malek, an Algerian member of the Arab team, told al-Jazeera he resigned in protest based on what he observed during his visit to Syria.

"The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians," he said. "People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and none were released."

Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed a large crowd of supporters Thursday in Damascus. In a televised address lasting nearly 2 hours Wednesday, he said his country was dealing with an armed insurgence aided by foreigners.

Malek accused the regime, meanwhile, of hiding heavy artillery from the observer mission.

The U.S. State Department notes the Arab League is set to make an evaluation of the observer mission during the weekend. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Washington had only an "incomplete picture" of events inside the country.

"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster," added Malek.

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