BEIRUT (AP/CBS) -- A French TV cameraman has become the first Western journalist to be killed in the 10-month uprising in Syria.
Officials and a witness say the Frenchman (Gilles Jacquier) died in a barrage of grenades, while he was on a government-sponsored trip to the restive city of Homs.
The government is blaming what it calls "terrorists" for the attack, which it said also killed eight Syrians.
According to one person who was on the tour, about 15 journalists were in a group that was hit by several grenades.
The attack came just hours after President Bashar Assad made a surprise appearance at a rally in the capital. He joined thousands of supporters in a show of confidence in his government.
Assad told the crowd that his foes are "in the final stages of their conspiracy."
Meanwhile, there's additional scrutiny on the Arab League mission that was supposed to determine whether the Syrian government is abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown. A former monitor says he quit in disgust because the regime was committing "war crimes" against its own people. He says the observer mission "was a farce."
Also, months of brutal unrest in Syria is forcing the United States to cut back on some of its embassy staff there.
A number of employees have been ordered to leave as soon as possible for security reasons.
The United Nations says at least 5,000 people have died since the violence erupted 10 months ago, mostly protesters killed by forces loyal to their dictator.