News

Syrian Forces Shell Homs, Block Aid to Rebel Stronghold

In this Friday, March 2, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a banner in Arabic reading:
In this Friday, March 2, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up a banner in Arabic reading: "thank you Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait," during a demonstration, in Idlib,

Multimedia

Audio

Syrian government forces shelled at least four neighborhoods of Homs Saturday, as the International Red Cross appealed to Syrian authorities to allow aid workers to enter embattled city's devastated Bab Amr district.

Syria's official news agency also reported a suicide bombing in the southern city of Daraa, while opposition activists claimed that the government was responsible for the blast.  Elsewhere, Arab satellite channels are reporting that more than 40 Syrian soldiers who tried to defect at an airbase in Idlib province were executed.

A Syrian government military offensive continued across parts of the country Saturday, including the sporadic shelling of parts of the beleaguered city of Homs.  An elite government brigade captured the opposition stronghold of Bab Amr several days ago, but the government still does not control all of the city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday appealed to Syrian authorities to allow aid workers to enter Baba Amr.

On Friday, Syrian authorities stopped an ICRC convoy, consisting of seven trucks carrying medical supplies and food, from entering Baba Amr, where activists say the humanitarian situation is dire.

The Red Cross say they received permission on Thursday to bring aid to the people stranded in the district.  But ICRC spokesman Sean Maguire told Britain's Sky News on Saturday that the organization still being blocked.

"We're being told it's not safe to proceed.  Now we're trying to get to the bottom of that and get beyond that," said Maguire.

Meanwhile, Syrian state TV showed images of badly damaged buildings, shattered walls, and battered storefronts.  It interviewed a number of people who claimed to be residents of Bab Amr who said they had been held hostage by "gangs of armed terrorists" from outside the area.

Despite eyewitness accounts that Syrian forces shelled the area for nearly a month causing many buildings to collapse, one middle-aged man told Syrian state TV that "armed gangs were responsible for all the damage in Bab Amr."

He says armed men were wearing masks and speaking a strange language that we couldn't understand.  He claims that they were foreign mercenaries and had used U.S. dollars and Saudi riyals.

Syrian TV also reported that three people were killed and 20 wounded in what it called a suicide car-bombing in Daraa, near the Jordanian border.  Opposition activist Aseel Abdallah, however, told Alhurra TV that he believed the government was behind the explosion:

Abdallah said that opposition activists in Daraa think the government was behind the bombing, because they noticed an unusual state of alert at military intelligence headquarters during the night, before the explosion, and that all was calm after the explosion, when one would have expected extra activity.  Abdallah argued that the explosion coincided with a government media campaign to blame violence in the country on foreign terrorists and al-Qaida.

Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami of the Hoover Institution says that he thinks the Syrian media is declaring victory, now that it has defied the outside world.

"This regime looked at the world, surveyed it and concluded that no cavalry was coming to the rescue of these embattled Syrians," said Ajami.  "They want their population to understand that the world outside does not care.  This is a very important message to them, to break the will of the population, that there is no cavalry coming to the rescue.  And I think, by and large, the Syrian people now must have fully understood that message."

Ajami adds that the U.S. is preoccupied with presidential primaries and that U.S. officials are reluctant to get involved in Syria, absent public pressure to do so.  He also notes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not evoke loathing like a typical Hollywood villain:

"I think you have to give credit where credit is due to the killer in Damascus.  Unlike Gadhafi, who was insane, and who said things in a brazen way, the man in Damascus kills, but he also has a referendum, so he still is faking out the international community," Ajami noted.  "He is less newsworthy, if you will, than Moammar Gadhafi.  Moammar Gadhafi's insanity made him better copy.  Moammar Gadhafi minced no words and said he was coming to kill the people in Benghazi, while Bashar says, as he kills them in Bab al Amr, he's offering a referendum."

Ajami argues that U.S. military strategists believe there are still some things the United States could do to help the Syrian people, short of a military intervention. "The choice isn't just 'boots on the ground' or 'head in the sand'," he says.  "The regime in Syria could be broken without massive U.S. intervention."  He insists that a Western victory in Syria would represent a "strategic defeat" for Iran, Hezbollah and Russia - something, he says, U.S. public should reflect on.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
Syrian government forces shelled at least four neighborhoods of Homs Saturday, as the International Red Cross appealed to Syrian authorities to allow aid workers to enter embattled city's devastated Bab Amr district.  Syria's official news agency also reported a suicide bombing in the southern city of Daraa, while opposition activists claimed that the government was responsible for the blast.  Elsewhere, Arab satellite channels are reporting that more than 40 Syrian soldiers who tried to defect at an airbase in Idlib province were executed.

A Syrian government military offensive continued across parts of the country Saturday, including the sporadic shelling of parts of the beleaguered city of Homs.  An elite government brigade captured the opposition stronghold of Bab Amr several days ago, but the government still does not control all of the city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday appealed to Syrian authorities to allow aid workers to enter Baba Amr.

On Friday, Syrian authorities stopped an ICRC convoy, consisting of seven trucks carrying medical supplies and food, from entering Baba Amr, where activists say the humanitarian situation is dire.

The Red Cross say they received permission on Thursday to bring aid to the people stranded in the district.  But ICRC spokesman Sean Maguire told Britain's Sky News on Saturday that the organization still being blocked.

"We're being told it's not safe to proceed.  Now we're trying to get to the bottom of that and get beyond that," said Maguire.

Meanwhile, Syrian state TV showed images of badly damaged buildings, shattered walls, and battered storefronts.  It interviewed a number of people who claimed to be residents of Bab Amr who said they had been held hostage by "gangs of armed terrorists" from outside the area.

Despite eyewitness accounts that Syrian forces shelled the area for nearly a month causing many buildings to collapse, one middle-aged man told Syrian state TV that "armed gangs were responsible for all the damage in Bab Amr."

He says armed men were wearing masks and speaking a strange language that we couldn't understand.  He claims that they were foreign mercenaries and had used U.S. dollars and Saudi riyals.

Syrian TV also reported that three people were killed and 20 wounded in what it called a suicide car-bombing in Daraa, near the Jordanian border.  Opposition activist Aseel Abdallah, however, told Alhurra TV that he believed the government was behind the explosion:

Abdallah said that opposition activists in Daraa think the government was behind the bombing, because they noticed an unusual state of alert at military intelligence headquarters during the night, before the explosion, and that all was calm after the explosion, when one would have expected extra activity.  Abdallah argued that the explosion coincided with a government media campaign to blame violence in the country on foreign terrorists and al-Qaida.

Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami of the Hoover Institution says that he thinks the Syrian media is declaring victory, now that it has defied the outside world.

"This regime looked at the world, surveyed it and concluded that no cavalry was coming to the rescue of these embattled Syrians," said Ajami.  "They want their population to understand that the world outside does not care.  This is a very important message to them, to break the will of the population, that there is no cavalry coming to the rescue.  And I think, by and large, the Syrian people now must have fully understood that message."

Ajami adds that the U.S. is preoccupied with presidential primaries and that U.S. officials are reluctant to get involved in Syria, absent public pressure to do so.  He also notes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not evoke loathing like a typical Hollywood villain:

"I think you have to give credit where credit is due to the killer in Damascus.  Unlike Gadhafi, who was insane, and who said things in a brazen way, the man in Damascus kills, but he also has a referendum, so he still is faking out the international community," Ajami noted.  "He is less newsworthy, if you will, than Moammar Gadhafi.  Moammar Gadhafi's insanity made him better copy.  Moammar Gadhafi minced no words and said he was coming to kill the people in Benghazi, while Bashar says, as he kills them in Bab al Amr, he's offering a referendum."

Ajami argues that U.S. military strategists believe there are still some things the United States could do to help the Syrian people, short of a military intervention. "The choice isn't just 'boots on the ground' or 'head in the sand'," he says.  "The regime in Syria could be broken without massive U.S. intervention."  He insists that a Western victory in Syria would represent a "strategic defeat" for Iran, Syria and Russia - something, he says, U.S. public should reflect on.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kafantaris
March 06, 2012 4:33 AM
Watching a brutal regime kill scores of people day after day with impunity, that it may stay in power, makes accomplices of us all.
History will not be kind.
Senator McCain is right. The World has sat this out too long.
The time to act on Syria is now -- and we may be already too late.

by: Fatimah
March 05, 2012 7:54 AM
"We were walking out altogether until we reached the checkpoint," said one of the women, Um Abdo. "Then they (Assad’s soldiers) separated us from the men. They put hoods on their heads and took them away." Where do you think they are now, I asked? The women replied all at once: "They will be slaughtered." – This is a report by the BBC from Homs. If this is not genocide, what is?

by: Gab to Bluesquid
March 04, 2012 3:09 AM
Sometimes a suicide mission is an act of bravery to save the lives of the innocent or fellow soldiers. Other times it is implanted into the minds of usually very young men that there is a great rewards from God to kill the enemies of God (real or perceived). We have seen people become celebrated martyrs after blowing up a bus full of women, children, tourists in Israel. We must always examine all the facts in every case.

by: abdulrahman
March 03, 2012 11:25 PM
As Gaudaffi sacrifices himself for his beloved country and didn't accept to leave his country to the slaves of America, as well as Bashar did not want its people to be slaves of America like Libyan people .Bashar! "That Death is better than live in slavery “May live long Bashar.

by: bluesquid
March 03, 2012 3:58 PM
One thing intrigues me and that is where they find people for suicide missions...OMG that,s so wrong on so many levels.

by: Libyan
March 03, 2012 9:45 AM
Basher is like a poision. He is trying to look like honey but his is, in fact, a devil.
I am wondiering how a miracle of stupidity could play this role. He looks stupid and talks like a stupid. But let me remind you Basher, your friend Gaddafi had also good divels advising him but finally he was crying and all of them faced the same end.
Basher and bloody killers with you , we will catch you and you will pay the price,

Go free Syira.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs