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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid