News / Middle East

Free Syria Army Claims Gains Against Government Forces

Henry Ridgwell

Syrian activists say that in the last few days there has been a spike in violence in the city of Homs. Fighters from the Free Syria Army claim they have taken control of a Homs suburb.

Video, taken from a cell phone, appears to show Free Syria Army fighters celebrating as a rocket-propelled grenade destroys a government tank. Two soldiers on board manage to flee under heavy fire.

VOA obtained the video from a rebel fighter, who says it was shot very recently in the Baba Amr suburb of Homs. It cannot be verified independently, but it tracks with reports from activists and the United Nations officials which suggest Homs has become one of the bloodiest battlefields in Syria’s uprising.

Anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a Syrian army defector as they chant slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad during an evening protest, in the Rastan area in Homs province, central Syria, on Monday Jan. 30, 2012.
Anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a Syrian army defector as they chant slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad during an evening protest, in the Rastan area in Homs province, central Syria, on Monday Jan. 30, 2012.
The fighter who took the video claims the Free Syria Army is scoring significant victories against government forces. The government has scoffed at such claims. “I feel that the Free Syria Army has done well in Homs,” he said. “We’ve managed to take over a whole neighborhood, Baba Amr, and a whole lot of adjacent areas. We’ve driven out all government forces and all the secret police. We’re taking care of the people and we’re protecting them."

The Syrian government blames terrorists acting out a foreign conspiracy for the nationwide uprising, It says  thousands of security forces have been killed in flashpoint cities like Homs.

Video obtained by VOA shows the carnage from fighting in Homs. Burnt out tanks litter the streets.

Free Syria Army fighters say they are an organized force, commanded by a senior defector from the Syrian Air Force. “We all take our orders from Colonel Riad al-Assad in Turkey,” one fighter says. “Each unit is given a name, it’s not random. We are called the Farouk unit, the ones from Baba Amr. So each unit, for example in Zabadani or Douma or wherever will have a name, each unit will take orders, each unit has somebody in charge," he said.

Activists say at least 74 people were killed in Homs in a two-day-span last week as government forces attacked residential areas with mortars and gunfire. There are also reports of a spike in sectarian killings in Hoims between Sunnis and Alawites tied to the Assad regime. Some opposition fighters say international help would bring a quick end to the conflict.

“Definitely what we need is a safe haven. Because as much as 90 percent, or let’s just say even 80 or 70 percent of [President] Assad’s Syrian army is willing to defect,” says one of the fighters. “But they need somewhere to defect to. The moment they have somewhere safe, you will see it, it will be like an avalanche. So we need international protection, we need a no-fly zone."

Video from an anti-government demonstration in Homs last week shows army defectors protecting protesters. Some in the crowd are shown chanting, ‘God protects the Free Syria Army’.

Later it appears the protest comes under fire, as yet another battle between pro- and anti-government forces escalates.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid