Syria threatened Arab League observers with death and used women to try to seduce them, an Algerian delegate told the London Telegraph.
Anwar Malek, a former Algerian army officer, told the newspaper that he fled the country after being constantly intimidated, following his witnessing the slaughter of women and children by security forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
He called the province of Homs, a center of anti-Assad demonstrations, an "international disaster zone."
"Blackmail ranged from threats of death, to public humiliation. We were meant to be monitoring a peace-keeping effort but instead watched people being killed, beaten up, and arrested by police, soldiers and militiamen," he related.
Malek fled Syria last week after his car came under gunfire that he said was from supporters of Assad.
"Any negative comments were ignored, and the authorities tried to blackmail us into keeping what we saw a secret. Our mobile phones were blocked, and we were told not to use email or social networking sites like Facebook to post information,” he said in an interview with the British newspaper.
He reported that children were shot dead or left to starve and that survivors were tortured daily.
The Arab League mission was intended to report on Assad’s brutal suppression of the 10-month-old Arab Spring protests that have left well over 5,000 dead and many more wounded.
The delegation has been criticized for acting as a fig leaf for Assad.
Malek confirmed previous reports that the observers were under constant supervision of intelligence personnel who drove them around the country. "Spies were watching us the whole time – with cameras, with binoculars, and with secret surveillance equipment,” he said. "I was ordered to stay in my hotel room for long periods, and was later told that I was being pictured at all times, including when I came in and out of the shower. The idea was that they had naked photographs of me and that they would be used to humiliate me if I became a problem."
He said he saw the corpses of three Syrian soldiers who were shot in the back for defying the regime.
A spokesman for the Arab League said some of Malek’s claims were "unfounded” and that he did not spend enough time joining Arab League observers’ trips in the country.