A French reporter has become the first Western journalist to have died in the ongoing unrest in Syria. Gilles Jacquier, who worked for France 2 Television, was among several people reported killed during violence in the restive city of Homs.
The circumstances have not been confirmed but a witness said the casualties were caused by rocket-propelled grenades fired during a rally by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Another European reporter was said to have been injured.
Jacquier had been invited to Syria by the government. Damascus has allowed more journalists to enter the country since the Arab
League sent a monitoring mission in December to check on the implementation of an agreeement to end the bloodshed.
Despite its presence in the country violence appears to be intensifying, with claims that the daily death rate has actually increased. The Arab League’s mission has been criticised as ineffective by some within Syria. One Homs resident said: “They only visit areas they deem safe for themselves, not where the army is shooting. They didn’t say the army was shooting at us.”
The mission has been mired in controversy from the beginning. One monitor has resigned saying the envoys are powerless to prevent what he described
as “scenes of horror” in Homs, which has seen some of the worst violence.