News / Middle East

    Syrian Forces Strike Homs for Second Day, Dozens Reported Dead

    Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets after Friday prayers in Hula, near Homs, October 28, 2011.
    Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets after Friday prayers in Hula, near Homs, October 28, 2011.

    Syrian activists say at least 47 soldiers and civilians were killed in violence across the country Saturday.

    The activists said at least 10 people died in the restive northern city of Homs, while seven others were killed elsewhere.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 government soldiers were killed in clashes with suspected army defectors in Homs, while 10 security forces were ambushed by deserters in the northern province of Idlib.

    Syrian government forces shelled parts of the restive northern city of Homs Saturday, causing numerous casualties, say witnesses. Dozens of people were killed or wounded Friday, after security forces opened fire on demonstrators in towns and cities across the country. Arab League foreign ministers are also demanding that the government stop firing on unarmed civilians.

    Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al Assad used tanks and field artillery to bomb the Bab Amr neighborhood of Homs Saturday, destroying and damaging peoples houses, according to videos broadcast on Arab sat channels.

    Witnesses say that there have been numerous casualties during two days of violent and indiscriminate bombardment. One man told Al Jazeera TV that many victims are still holed up in their damaged homes, because it was “impossible to evacuate the wounded.”

    Al Arabiya TV reported that 90 soldiers defected from the Syrian Army in the Bab Amr district Thursday, causing pro-Assad troops to attack.  A Syrian opposition leader also told the TV that the regime is “worried that rebel soldiers turn Homs into their capital, as Libyan rebels did with Benghazi.”

    Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in California, points out that Homs, and the northern city of Hama, have always had bad relations with the Assad regime, and are taking the lead in the more than 7 month old popular uprising:

    “Homs has emerged as the capital of the rebellion and I think for obvious reasons. Homs and Hama have always been, their traffic with the regime, their relation with the regime is not very good. And what's interesting, the demography of Hama is more Sunni. The demography of Homs is more mixed. So the demography of Homs is explosive. Neighborhoods are close, but they're also defined neighborhoods, there are Alawi neighborhoods, Christian neighborhoods, Sunni neighborhoods. So, this is how street warfare and urban warfare develops," he said.

    Syrian government TV showed a man who belongs to President Bashar al Assad's Alawite sect, claiming that “Sunni terrorists” killed part of his family. He added that the alleged “terrorists” were being armed and given money by agents in Lebanon.

    Over 40 people were reportedly killed during popular protests in several dozen Syrian towns and cities Friday, when snipers and government security forces fired on them. It is not clear if the casualty figures also include victims of violent clashes between army defectors and government troops in Homs, Hama and the southern city of Daraa.

    Fouad Ajami argues that the Assad government is trying desperately to crush the rebellion, because it is in a bad situation financially, while the protesters are tired but resilient. “The regime is in a hurry to put down the rebellion, because it's running out of money. The people are in a hurry to distract the regime because they've suffered enough and they're afraid fatigue will set in. So, the terms of engagement are very clear: the regime has to win in a hurry," he said. 

Meanwhile, an Arab League committee on Syria has sent an urgent message to the Assad government, demanding that it “stop killing Syrian civilians.”

    The Qatari FM heads the committee and is due to meet with Syrian officials in Doha Sunday to try and start a dialogue with the opposition. Several opposition leaders are calling the meeting “a waste of time.”

    Fouad Ajami says that many opposition protesters cannot now abandon the fight, because they have been identified by pro-regime forces and will be killed if a ceasefire is called.

    “It's an irresistable force clashing with an immovable object. The irresistable force are these protests, the people-it's too late for them to give up on the insurgency, the protests, the rebellion, and the regime is not yet done-so that's a classic ingredient for a civil war, because for the protesters, many of them can never go back to their homes. It's such a controlled setting, that the regime and its vigilantes, they know the names of the protesters. So for the protesters, it's too late, they must win or die. Now, for the rulers, they must stay in power and maybe also die, ergo Gadhafi. There's no quick resolution in sight," he said.

    Ajami says that it's still too soon to decide who is going to win the conflict, but he points out that “gravity is working against the regime.”

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora