News / Middle East

Battles Intensify in Syrian City of Homs

In this July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs, Syria.
In this July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs, Syria.
Reuters
Syrian troops fought with rebels in Homs on Monday in a battle seen as crucial to the government's attempts to drive a wedge between opposition-held areas and establish links between the capital and President Bashar al-Assad's coastal strongholds.
 
Assad's forces have been on the offensive in the central Syrian city for 10 days, hitting rebel-held neighborhoods with air strikes, mortar bombs and tanks.
 
Rebels control much of northern Syria but have been on the back foot against Assad's army further south since it retook Qusair last month, a town near the border with Lebanon, where victory marked a change in the government's fortunes.
 
At a time when the army has made gains on the battlefield, Syrian state media announced that new leaders had been appointed in the ruling Baath Party in a reshuffle that will be seen as an attempt by Assad to put a new face on the political organization that has dominated Syrian politics for more than four decades.
 
In Istanbul, the newly elected head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters that the rebels' military position was weak and proposed a truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday, to stop fighting in Homs.
 
There was no sign that the government in Damascus, with its forces now grinding out advances following setbacks earlier in the war, was ready to accept such a ceasefire.
 
“We are staring at a real humanitarian disaster in Homs,” said Ahmad Jarba, who was elected at an opposition conference on Saturday.
 
He said he expected advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia, the main opposition backer, to reach rebel fighters soon and strengthen their position on the ground.
 
The Syrian National Coalition, a largely exile group, has little influence on rebel units in Syria. That could change if it succeeds in facilitating the supply of sophisticated weapons to the opposition, whose fighters say they need shoulder-launched missiles to take on Assad's air force.
 
Syria's two-year revolt began as peaceful protests but, under a fierce security force crackdown, degenerated into civil war. The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, says.
 
Clashes and bombardment were reported by activists in nearly every province on Monday, from the outskirts of the capital in the south to the northwestern farming province of Idlib to the eastern desert city of Deir al-Zor.
 
Homs, 140 km (90 miles) north of Damascus, is situated at a strategic crossing linking the capital with army bases in coastal regions controlled by Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has dominated majority Sunni Syria since the 1960s.
 
Assad is trying to cement control of this belt of territory, in a move that could drive a wedge between rebel-held areas in the north and south of the country.
 
The United States and Sunni Gulf countries say they are backing the opposition but Assad has made significant gains in recent months with military and financial support from Russia and Shi'ite Iran.
 
Fighters from Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah have also played a significant role in helping Assad recapture border towns from Sunni rebels.
 
The Syrian state news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying that the army had killed “terrorists” - a word state media uses for insurgents - in several areas of Homs on Monday, including the Old City district of Bab Hood and some satellite towns around the country's third largest city.
 
The Observatory said that Bab Hood and the al-Safsafa district were being hit with heavy artillery, mortar bombs and tank fire, resulting in several injuries.
 
“Violent clashes took place on Monday morning between rebels and army forces,” the Observatory said in an email. It did not give casualty figures, which are hard to confirm due to media and security restrictions.
 
The Observatory said that the army had retaken around a fifth of al-Khalidiya, a northern district that links the outskirts of the city with the center.
 
A local physician working in Homs with displaced families said she had heard constant bombardment over the past few days.
 
“What can we say? We've gotten so used to it we don't even want to think about it. God protects us,” she said over the phone on condition of anonymity from the central neighborhood on Inshaat.
 
Video uploaded by an activist group in Homs showed smoke billowing from damaged buildings and the near-constant echo of gunfire and explosions ringing through the narrow streets.
 
The 13th-century Khalid ibn al-Walid mosque, a prominent central landmark, could be seen in the footage. Like many of Syria's historical treasures, the mosque, with its silver-colored domes, has been badly damaged.
 
The United Nations has expressed alarm at conditions in Homs, Syria's third largest city, saying last week that between 2,500 and 4,000 civilians were trapped there amid shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel.
 
Homs city was the epicenter of protests at the start of the revolt and the armed insurgency. Many districts have fallen in and out of government control during the past two years.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 08, 2013 2:41 PM
What should be verified is Assads whereabouts, to be sure he is not on a Russian Warship. If Assad is on a Russian warship, then Russian votes should not count in the Security Council. Reason being, Russia is being an accomplice in the terrorist acts implemented by Assad so their votes shouldn't count. Then the International Criminal Court could have Assad up on Charges. Once Assad has charges by the ICC, he is a goner. The only reason Assad is not wanted on crimes against humanity is because of Russia objecting the security council. Is Assad guilty? Of course he is, the world knows it. Still everyday he continues to bomb civilian residential neighbourhoods killing more innocent civilians than any so called "terrorists". Assad has murdered more innocent civilians than any group in Syria. Who is the terrorist kingpin of Syria? None other than Bashar al Assad and he should be treated just like a terrorist, he is one. He should of been stopped long long long ago.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 09, 2013 12:32 PM
RE: Igor from Russia, that is not the right answer... As long as assad is indiscriminately dropping bombs in Syrian residential areas all over the country, the people of Syria deserve protection against this act. This is in fact a form of terrorism against the Syrian Nation. IF Assad could be arrested (If he is even in Syria), and was put before the people, he would have charges for killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. He would also face charges for hundreds of thousands (If not millions) of home owners homes, businesses destroyed. Dropping bombs in civilian areas does not earn you votes, it earns you criminal charges. The opposition has not done even 1/1000th of the destruction in Syria that Assad has done.

Assad has sicked his henchmen against the entire country of Syria. Most of the Syrian army top brass defected long ago because of these type of terrorist acts against the Syrian nation, that they would not take part in. Hats off to the Syrian people, they will now be able to defend their homeland against assads criminal aggression. Assad is only trying to protect himself, most certainly he is not protecting the country of Syria by completely destroying it. This is a crime that should not go unpunished. IF it wasn't for Russia vetoing the UN Security Council Assad WOULD be up on war crimes. The best thing the west has done so far is helped providing non-lethal aid, most importantly video cameras for everyone to record assads crimes against the nation. These videos will go down in syrian history as evidence of the crimes. Assads father killed tens of thousands of opposition years ago as well. Like father like son.
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
July 09, 2013 12:55 AM
Assad is only a poor victim of the Western media and the terrorist groups backed by the West and some of their allies. Before the war Syria is the most peaceful and tolerant place in The Midle East where all religions and sects lived in hamony and were treated equally. The West and its allies have been instigating hatred among diferent sects and backing terrorist groups in order to oust Mr. Assad to create a pumppet one which would be ready to obey their orders. To fight against international organized groups of terrorists are extremely difficult and Syrian government are lacking of precise and advanced weapons so civilian casualty is inevitable. The solution to the war is that the West must stop providing terrorists with weapons and other nations should provide Assad with much more advanced ones to minimize civilian casualty and to completely destroy all terrorists.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs