News / Middle East

Activists: Syrian Security Forces Launch Ground Assault in Homs

A Syrian rebel aims his rifle inside a classroom at a school in the Deir Baalbeh neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, February 22, 2012.
A Syrian rebel aims his rifle inside a classroom at a school in the Deir Baalbeh neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, February 22, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +

Syrian security forces have launched a ground assault on the besieged city of Homs, in an attempt to overrun rebel-held districts that have endured nearly a month of bombardment that killed hundreds and left residents in desperate peril.

Activists said Wednesday that government troops were trying to enter the opposition Baba Amr and al-Inshaat neighborhoods, where fierce confrontations with the rebel Free Syrian Army were taking place. A Syrian official vowed Baba Amr would be "cleansed" within hours.

Activists: Syrian Security Forces Launch Ground Assault in Homs
Activists: Syrian Security Forces Launch Ground Assault in Homs

In recent days, opposition sources had reported the Syrian military was massing elite Fourth Armored Division troops and tanks under the command of President Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher, around the city in preparation for a final assault.

At least three Western journalists remain trapped in Baba Amr, although Syrian activists smuggled British photographer Paul Conroy to safety in neighboring Lebanon Tuesday in an escape during which some of his rescuers were killed.



Activists said troops also entered the central town of Halfaya in Hama province after five days of intense shelling. They said the rebel-held town of Rastan, just north of Homs, was shelled and that casualties were reported.

Related video clip:

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the newly appointed United Nations-Arab League envoy for Syria, said he will discuss the situation Wednesday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and member states in New York. He will then go to Cairo for talks with Arab League head Nabil Elaraby.

U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe said Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on the nearly year-long opposition uprising has killed "well over 7,500" people. He told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that "credible reports" from Syria indicate more than 100 civilians are killed every day, "including many women and children."

France said Tuesday diplomats have begun drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate end to violence in Syria so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to communities under weeks of government assault.

China also issued calls for a humanitarian response and a halt to fighting.

Russia and China have twice vetoed Western- and Arab-backed council resolutions that would have condemned Damascus for its deadly crackdown. Diplomats say Western powers and their Arab partners hope that focusing a new resolution on Syria's humanitarian situation will make it difficult for Moscow and Beijing to cast a third veto.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that al-Qaida and other militants are taking advantage of the situation in Syria, and that now is not the time to "further militarize the situation."

Syrian officials blame the uprising on foreign-backed armed "terrorists" whom the government says have killed more than 2,000 security personnel. The revolt against Mr. Assad's autocratic rule has become increasingly militarized in recent months with Syrian army defectors joining a loosely-organized rebel force.

The new death toll provided by the U.N. Tuesday represents an increase of 2,100 from the figure it gave last month.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said a humanitarian cease-fire must be declared in Syria immediately to stop "serious rights abuses" by security forces against civilians. She made the plea at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Syrian envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui walked out of the session in protest.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid