News / Middle East

    Syrian Tanks Shell Homs Neighborhood

    Syrian Tanks Shell Homs Neighborhood
    Syrian Tanks Shell Homs Neighborhood

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    Syrian government tanks pounded the Bab Amr district of the flashpoint city of Homs, intensifying pressure on opposition groups.

    Retaliation?

    Witnesses say Syrian Army tanks shelled parts of the flashpoint city Homs for close to three hours. On a Facebook web site, a Syrian opposition group accused the government of attacking the area after residents tore down posters of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Witness reports say security forces have encircled the area and government snipers have taken position on tall buildings. Communications have reportedly been cut and residents are hiding in their houses.

    Witnesses also say security forces and government militias entered the town of Jassem overnight, and have been arresting scores of young men. Protesters in Jassem, a suburb of the southern city of Daraa, held noisy anti-government demonstrations Tuesday.

    Syrian human rights activists say thousands of young men have been rounded up in recent days in more than a dozen towns and cities. British journalist Martin Fletcher told the BBC he saw a large number of young men that were being held in a basement detention center near Damascus.

    Anti-terrorism effort

    Syrian government TV repeated claims the army was “engaged in a battle against terrorists,” and it had “captured hundreds.” It also charged al-Jazeera TV with what it called “fabricating pictures and videos to incite violence.”

    Syrian TV also interviewed ordinary citizens who claimed that life was normal in their town or city. Women told the television fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, eggs and bread were all available and several men claimed that electricity, water and telephones were all working.

    No 'foreign plot'

    At the European parliament in Strasbourg, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton denounced Syrian claims the protest movement was a “foreign plot,” saying it represented “a popular aspiration for democracy and the rule of law.”  She also urged Syria to stop repressing its people.

    "Our concern, in this house and in the European Union, is for the people of Daraa, where the U.N. has been refused access, in Banias, where the crackdown continues, in Hama, where the tanks have moved in," she said. "Mr. President, the Syrian people will not budge at tanks.  We say to the regime to change course and to change course now."

    The European Union recently imposed sanctions on 13 close relatives or associates of President Assad.  One of those sanctioned, Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad, warned in an interview with the New York Times that there would be “no stability in Israel” if Syria was “not stable.”

     

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