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Arab Monitor Quits Syria Mission, Assad Appears At Rally

A protester throws a tear gas bomb back towards security forces in the flashpoint city of Homs.
An Arab League observer has left Syria, saying he had witnessed grave scenes of violence, which the Arab monitoring team sent to the country was doing nothing to prevent.

Algerian monitor Anwar Malek told the media he had spent 15 days in the flashpoint city of Homs where he saw "scenes of horror" and "burnt bodies."

The Arab League monitoring mission, now about 165 strong, began work on December 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.

But Malek said he left because he found himself "serving" the Syrian regime by allowing it to continue the killing of protesters.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on January 10 that UN figures show that at least 400 people have been killed in Syria since the arrival of the monitoring mission two weeks ago.

The UN has previously said that more than 5,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

Meanwhile, Assad addressed thousands of supporters in a public square in Damascus on January 11 amid heavy security, vowing to defeat what he called a "conspiracy."

The previous day, Assad vowed to use an "iron hand" to crush what he described as the terrorists and saboteurs who have been leading Syria's uprising against his government.

compiled from agency reports