Thursday, January 12, 2012

Journalists Killed In Syria; The Violence Continues

Syria's regime claims deep regret over the deaths and injuries of journalists, including Frenchman Gilles Jacquier, who was covering a pro-regime rally in Homs. A mortar attack was being covered by the journalists and then a second mortar came down on the same area, killing and wounding several journalists, including Jacquier.

While the regime is quick to claim that terrorists and opposition were responsible, questions remain over how the pro-regime rally could have come under attack and whether the regime itself carried out the attack to curry favor and shift international opinion against the protests against Assad's regime.

International journalists have largely been banned from Syria, so most of the footage comes from third party sources that can't be directly corroborated. Here, we've got CNN correspondent operating in the country, but being minded by Syrian officials who take him and his colleagues around the country. They are just as much a mouthpiece of the regime as the official Syrian media outlets. They aren't able to independently report, let alone investigate, the acts they've seen.

Then again, the regime's forces aren't always using military equipment; often they've been seen using pickup trucks and other technicals, rather than marked military vehicles. This can help them blend into the background and also shows just how difficult it is to figure out who's doing what.

At the same time, another Arab League monitor is vowing to quit, claiming that the military is continuing to carry out attacks against civilians and using mosques to store weapons. The Arab League mission has itself come under attack from forces, causing several injuries and slowing any further observer missions to the country.

What we're seeing is that some of the monitors appear to be genuinely concerned and dismayed over the ongoing crackdown in Syria but are hampered by both Bashar al-Assad's regime and the Arab League's own issues.

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