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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs