The Arab League Observers' Mission report from Syria (excerpts and link to full text)
These excerpts from the Arab League observers' report on Syria make it clear that there is widespread violence on both sides, but that the opposition and the Western media have exaggerated the violence and casualties inflicted by government forces. The UN has stopped accepting casualty figures claimed by the opposition, and has frozen its "official" estimate of civilian deaths at 5,400, without acknowledging that this may already be highly exaggerated. This is not yet a bloodbath on the scale of Libya, where even the new government admits that at least 25,000 people died in the NATO-led war. Syria could follow the Libya model though, if NATO and the GCC keep providing weapons and military training to the Free Syrian Army and are prepared to beef it up with special forces on the ground, and as long as the UN approves a no-fly zone to provide cover for another 9,700 air strikes. How could Russia and China dare to nip this humanitarian crusade in the bud?
Report of the Head of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria. December 24, 2011 to January 18, 2012
Relevant Excerpts of the Report are indicated below: bold added:
The complete leaked report of the Arab League Observers Mission with annexes (pdf)
"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.
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, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.
28. 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.
29. 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.
According to their latest reports and their briefings to the Head of the Mission on 17 January 2012 in preparation for this report, group team leaders witnessed peaceful demonstrations by both Government supporters and the opposition in several places. None of those demonstrations were disrupted, except for some minor clashes with the Mission and between loyalists and opposition. These have not resulted in fatalities since the last presentation before the Arab Ministerial Committee on the Situation in Syria at its meeting of 8 January 2012.
Some observers reneged on their duties and broke the oath they had taken. They made contact with officials from their countries and gave them exaggerated accounts of events. Those officials consequently developed a bleak and unfounded picture of the situation.
Arab and foreign audiences of certain media organizations have questioned the Mission’s credibility because those organizations use the media to distort the facts. It will be difficult to overcome this problem unless there is political and media support for the Mission and its mandate. It is only natural that some negative incidents should occur as it conducts its activities because such incidents occur as a matter of course in similar missions.
75. Recently, there have been incidents that could widen the gap and increase bitterness between the parties. These incidents can have grave consequences and lead to the loss of life and property. Such 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.
Since its establishment, attitudes towards the Mission have been characterized by insincerity or, more broadly speaking, a lack of seriousness. Before it began carrying out its mandate and even before its members had arrived, the Mission was the target of a vicious campaign directed against the League of Arab States and the Head of the Mission, a campaign that increased in intensity after the observers’ deployment. The Mission still lack the political and media support it needs in order to fulfil its mandate. Should its mandate be extended, the goals set out in the Protocol will not be achieved unless such support is provided and the Mission receives the backing it needs to ensure the success of the Arab solution."