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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs