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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid