Cameraman killed in Homs as press come under fire

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The Independent Online

A French TV cameraman became the first Western journalist to die in the 10-month-old Syrian uprising, killed by grenade fire during a government trip to the restive city of Homs.

Syria blamed "terrorists" for the attack which killed Gilles Jacquier, 43, who worked for France-2 TV. Eight Syrians also died.

About 15 journalists, including Mr Jacquier's partner, were in a pro-Assad neighourhood when they came under fire, according to one of their number, Jens Franssen.

"At some point, three or four shells hit, very close to us," he told Belgian television.

The violence came just hours after President Bashar Assad appeared at a rally in the capital, Damascus, right. The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed so far as the result of protests and that the killings have accelerated since the arrival of 165 Arab League monitors on 26 December to verify if Syria is complying with an agreement to halt the crackdown. Monitor Anwar Malek told Al-Jazeera he was leaving the mission after witnessing "scenes of horror". He said the team was not acting independently.

"I withdrew because I found myself serving the regime," told the network, wearing the orange vest used by the Arab monitors.

"How was I serving the regime? I was giving the regime a greater chance to continue its killing and I could not prevent that."