Saturday, February 4, 2012

Leaked Arab League mission report splits guilt of violence against civilians

LINyM[es] reports today on the leak of the Arab League's mission leaked report. The report had only been produced in Arabic and then removed from the Arab League's site. However it has finally been leaked and is now available in English here (if the link goes down, I made a copy just in case). 

Excerpts (bold type is mine):

On being assigned to their zones and starting work, the observers witnessed acts of violence perpetrated by Government forces and an exchange of gunfire with armed elements in Homs and Hama.

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children...

The Mission noted that many parties falsely reported that explosions or violence had occurred in several locations. When the observers went to those locations, they found that those reports were unfounded.

The Mission also noted that, according to its teams in the field, the media exaggerated the nature of the incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns.

The reports and briefings of groups leaders state that citizens belonging to the opposition surround the Mission on its arrival and use the gathering as a barrier from the security services. However, such incidents have gradually decreased.

The Mission has received requests from opposition supporters in Homs and Deraa that it should stay on-site and not leave, something that may be attributable to fear of attack after the Mission’s departure.

The Mission received reports from parties outside Syria indicating that the number of detainees was 16,237. It also received information from the opposition inside the country that the number of detainees was 12,005. In validating those figures, the teams in the field discovered that there were discrepancies between the lists, that information was missing and inaccurate, and that names were repeated

On 15 January 2012, President Bashar Al-Assad issued a legislative decree granting a general amnesty for crimes perpetrated in the context of the events from 15 March 2011 through to the issuance of the decree. In implementation of the amnesty, the relevant Government authorities have been periodically releasing detainees in the various regions so long as they are not wanted in connection with other crimes.

Based on the reports of the field-team leaders and the meeting held on 17 January 2012 with all team leaders, the Mission confirmed that all military vehicles, tanks and heavy weapons had been withdrawn from cities and residential neighbourhoods. Although there are still some security measures in place in the form of earthen berms and barriers in front of important buildings and in squares, they do not affect citizens

The Syrian Government confirmed that it grants media organizations operating permits that are valid for 10 days, with the possibility of renewal.

Reports and information from some sectors [teams] indicate that the Government places restrictions on the movement of media organizations in opposition areas. In many cases, those restrictions caused journalists to trail the Mission in order to do their work.

The Mission determined that there is an armed entity that is not mentioned in the protocol. This development on the ground can undoubtedly be attributed to the excessive use of force by Syrian Government forces in response to protests that occurred before the deployment of the Mission demanding the fall of the regime. In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence. In the end, innocent citizens pay the price for those actions with life and limb.

No restrictions were placed on the movement of the Mission and its ability to interview Syrian citizens, both those who opposed the Government and those loyal to it.

In some cities, the Mission sensed the extreme tension, oppression and injustice from which the Syrian people are suffering. However, the citizens believe the crisis should be resolved peacefully through Arab mediation alone, without international intervention. Doing so would allow them to live in peace and complete the reform process and bring about the change they desire. The Mission was informed by the opposition, particularly in Dar‘a, Homs, Hama and Idlib, that some of its members had taken up arms in response to the suffering of the Syrian people as a result of the regime’s oppression and tyranny; corruption, which affects all sectors of society; the use of torture by the security agencies; and human rights violations.

Recently, there have been incidents that could widen the gap and increase bitterness between the parties. These incidents (...) include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups.

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