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Excerpts: "Residents inside the besieged city of Homs claim they are under 'genocidal attack' from a Syrian regime apparently deaf to international opinion and determined to 'bomb, starve and shoot' them into submission."

A still from a video filmed in Homs shows bodies wrapped in white sheets outside a hospital in the Bab al-Amr neighborhood. (photo: AP)
A still from a video filmed in Homs shows bodies wrapped in white sheets outside a hospital in the Bab al-Amr neighborhood. (photo: AP)

Syrian Siege of Homs Is Genocidal, Say Residents

By Luke Harding, Mona Mahmood, Matthew Weaver, Guardian UK

08 February 12


The Guardian UK is reporting: "The White House has insisted that it was not planning to arm the opposition in Syria, but CNN claims the US military is 'beginning to look at what can be done,' citing two senior officials. The New York Times reports: As Russia Pushes Diplomacy, Syrian Forces Are Said to Pound Homs." For continuing live updates see: the Guardian UK on the Siege of Homs and Al Jazeera's Syria Live Blog. -- CW/RSN


esidents inside the besieged city of Homs claim they are under "genocidal attack" from a Syrian regime apparently deaf to international opinion and determined to "bomb, starve and shoot" them into submission.

On Tuesday night the city was under massive continuous bombardment, witnesses told the Guardian, with rockets raining down from the sky every few minutes, and helicopters and fighter planes circling overhead. They said Syrian army tanks had encircled opposition-held suburbs, in preparation for what they feared was a final, deadly ground assault.

"The regime didn't expect us to continue our struggle against them," activist Karam Abu Rabea said via Skype. "They didn't think we would persist. So now it is using its last card. It is the genocide card."

Rabea described the humanitarian situation as appalling. He said the regime was deliberately attempting to starve families trapped in rebel-controlled districts. Army snipers had been positioned on the main roads, he added, and were able to mow down anyone who moved on smaller, intersecting side roads. No one could escape, he said. Two journalists – Salah Murjan and Khalid Abu Salah, documenting the horrors of Homs – were shot by snipers.

Rabea said: "There is no food allowed to get inside neighbourhoods opposing the regime. Especially bread. We don't have any bread. They are targeting the vital installations of the city: bakeries, the hospital, mosques. Some of the bakeries were shut by force. The regime cut off internet and phones on Monday. I have a satellite set, which is why I can speak to you. The Assad regime is trying to destroy Homs completely."

His comments came as Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, held talks in Damascus on Tuesday with Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, after Russia and China vetoed a UN security council resolution on Saturday that was designed to stop the bloodshed. The vetoes prompted global condemnation, with the US closing its embassy on Damascus on Monday, and Britain recalling its ambassador for consultations. On Tuesday the diplomatic exodus from Damascus continued, with France and Italy withdrawing their ambassadors. Six Gulf states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – also pulled their envoys out and expelled Syrian ambassadors from their own countries.

Speaking on Tuesday, Lavrov said Assad had assured him he was "completely committed to the task of stopping violence regardless of where it may come from".

But the claim bore little resemblance to the bloody reality inside Homs.

Rabea described how government forces began a pincer movement against the city 10 days ago. He said soldiers slaughtered three families living on the edge of the Karm al-Zayton district, apparently to send a message to opposition forces who have been holding out against the regime since last year.

"It started with a massacre. Trucks of soldiers pulled up. They executed the women and men inside the house and stabbed the children with knives. They killed four members of the Bahader family, 11 from the A'kra family and six from the al-Muhammad family on 26 January," Rabea – who lives in the district – said. [The Guardian was unable to independently verify the report.]

Days later, [according to Rabea,] the bombardment began. First, the army forcibly evacuated students from Homs's university. It transformed the university's compound into a makeshift military base, bringing in truck-mounted missile launchers. The army also moved rocket launchers into the nearby town of Meskana, Rabea said.

"The regime changed its tactics. Instead of doing a ground incursion they are bombarding us from outside," he explained. "They are using artillery and land-to-air missiles." He added: "Many houses have been demolished. People were still inside them."

Other witnesses inside the city said there were ominous signs of preparations for a definitive final assault. Some 11 months after Syria's uprising began, with Homs its epicentre, Russian-made T-72 tanks had penetrated as far as Tripoli Street, south-east of Bab al-Amr, witnesses said. They counted 13 of them. Some 10-12 tanks surrounded al-Khaldiyeh. The Syrian army had entered via areas loyal to the regime, they added.

"We've heard continuous bombing since Monday. It hasn't stopped. Now there is firing as well," Waleed Fares, an activist speaking by satellite phone from inside al-Khaldiyeh said. "I've seen fighter planes and helicopters. We had 11 people killed here on Monday. Five people killed so far in my neighbourhood today. About 40-50 wounded. Women and children among the dead and injured."

Video footage filmed from a Homs rooftop, which emerged on Tuesday, apparently showed an apocalyptic scene: with missiles slamming every few seconds into residential areas, sending plumes of grey and black smoke into the skyline. The whine of a fighter jet could be heard. Against the sound of machine gun fire, a voice cries: "God is great." Other videos from Monday showed corpses lying in the corridor of a makeshift field hospital.

Another activist, Sufian, also speaking by satellite phone, said security forces had captured one hospital in al-Halemei. The injured were taken away to prison. The last field hospital in Bab al-Amr was bombed on Monday, he said. "We lost 10 people when we tried to evacuate it," he said. "This morning five people were killed. Since Friday more than 400 have died, and many more are under rubble."

He added: "We are using kitchen knives for surgery. All the field hospitals have been targeted. We are relying on domestic medicine cabinets to treat the injured. We don't have any blood for donations, or oxygen. We are calling on help from the whole world. We need urgent help opening the blockade of Homs."

Activists said the opposition fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were no match for their well-armed government adversaries, equipped with tanks, fighter planes, and Russian heavy weapons. "The soldiers who defected from the army only have Kalashnikovs. How can you face a battalion with a Kalashnikov?" Sufian asked. "Tanks have been captured, but they were very exposed, and the regime could easily target them. It's a target you cannot hide."

Amid the horror, some activists expressed – remarkably – optimism. They said that despite the ongoing massacre – with Homs becoming Syria's bloody counterpart to the Libyan town of Misrata – they still expected Assad's regime to crumble. Rabea said that in the wake of this weekend's failure to find a diplomatic settlement the only way the world could stop the slaughter in Syria was to arm the FSA.

"The international community needs to give the FSA money. And weapons. We need the Red Cross here. We need a no-fly zone. And we need safe havens so that people can flee." Who did he blame for the situation in Homs? "We blame Russia and China mainly for all the killing happening in the city now." He added: "Our crime is that we wanted freedom. But what we got from the regime was this increase of killing that started a year ago."

For the moment, the existential hell that is Homs continues. Waleed said that families who had survived four days of bombardment were sitting on the ground floor of their houses, hoping and praying the attacks would stop. Children were asking their parents if they would survive, he said, and the parents were unable to answer. "We're waiting," Waleed said. "Waiting to see if we live or die." your social media marketing partner


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+2 # cadan 2012-02-08 11:19
And foreign bombing by NATO will improve the situation (assuming the report is true)?
+1 # Activista 2012-02-08 15:21
"world could stop the slaughter in Syria was to arm the FS?" - we are already doing that ...
According to former Central Intelligence Agency officer Philip Giraldi, writing in the current issue of The American Conservative magazine:

"Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi's arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi's army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and US Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

"Giraldi adds that the CIA analysts themselves are "skeptical regarding the approach to war", as they know that the frequently cited United Nations account of civilians killed is based largely on rebel sources and uncorroborated. The CIA has "refused to sign off on the claims" of mass defections from the Syrian Army.
0 # Activista 2012-02-09 00:32
Stephen J. Sniegoski, The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East: evidence that this Israel-U.S. connection is the driving force behind virtually all Middle East decisionmaking over the last eight years, as well as the political courage to write a book about it.
Sniegoski’s book demonstrates clearly how U.S. and Israeli policies and actions with respect to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the other Gulf states, and even most recently Georgia are all tied together in a bundle of interrelated linkages, each of which affects all the others.
The right wing of Israeli politics, the neoconservative s in the U.S. who strongly support Israel, and the aging Israel lobby in the United States all have worked together, and are still doing so, to bring about more wars, regime changes, and instability, specifically the fragmentation of any Middle Eastern states that might ever conceivably threaten Israel.
+2 # RMDC 2012-02-09 06:57
Thanks Activista, You provide the information that the Guardian article can't seem to find. Its sources are very vague but certainly all from the mercenaries and their CIA organized PR campaign to bring NATO air support to the regime change in Syria.

The report of the Arab League's monitors makes very clear that "armed gangs" are doing most of the killing. This is how it turned out in Libya.

Syria is being attacked by well armed, trained and financed terrorists. It has a right to resist the attack. What would Obama or Bush do in a similar situation.

Basically the Guardian is presenting the same narrative as it did for Libya. This is pure propaganda for all out war against Syria. The vast majority of Syrians do not support the mercenaries. They support Assad. They do want political change and a more democratic government. But the mercenaries are the exact opposite of that.
0 # Activista 2012-02-09 11:45
Thanks RMDC - I am not informed as you are - you are my inspiration.
As references go - paste quoted text into Google search and very likely you get the answer.
Check Yahoo - Syria forces bombard Homs - pictures of dead and injured and "American People" wan to protect "Syrian People".
The same propaganda used to "liberate" Kosovo People, Libyan People, Syrian People ... seems that Usraeli Mass media does NOT have one journalist ... all is war propaganda.
+1 # Dale 2012-02-09 10:47
It appears that even the alternative news like RSN swallow the no doubt deceptive news that flows out of Syria.
It is likely to be another Libya or Iran or Iraq, a regime not liked by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

Give us the real scoop please.
+2 # heraldmage 2012-02-09 14:49
Another USA propaganda article.
You are being lied to by activists reporting for & paid by the USA on Syria. It is there job to brainwash impressible youth & the economically disadvantaged to revolt. To arm former colonial collaborator, destabilize the country, instigate revolt & provide disinformation to foreign media. The majority of Syrian, however support the current regime. They also demanded that Assad send the Syrian army to get rid of the terrorist, armed gangs & bullies trying to re-impose western colonialism.
The real reason for regime change is Syria's refusal to sign a treaty giving the occupied Golan Heights to Israel & as punishment for refusing USA troop deployment into Iraq.
If the killing of its citizens by a ruling regime is a reason for regime change than the USA should immediately impose sanctions on Bahrain, Yemen & Saudi Arabia until they stopped the slaughter of unarmed peaceful protesters, as well as the arrest & torture of protesters. In Syria the government is & has been dealing with foreign armed & trained rebels. There are foreign news video & reports of British troops on the ground in Syria setting up arms smuggling routes & training terrorist.
It is the USA & EU who are trying to force regime change by instigating violence as it does in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan. For at least 60 yr the USA has lied & misrepresented facts leading to war let's not fall for it again. Let Iraq be the last wars based on lies.
0 # Activista 2012-02-10 11:41
"flood of weapons and fighters out of Libya has now added to an arc of insecurity across West Africa, stretching from Boko Haram Islamists behind a spate of lethal bombings in Nigeria to al Qaeda allies who have targeted Westerners and armed forces"
NATO liberated "rebels" are killing all over - also in Syria. Thank you Obama/Clinton.
0 # RMDC 2012-02-11 08:25
The media around the world always lines up behind the colonial wars of the US and NATO. It uses words like "genocide" or "ethnic cleansing" just to demonize the Syrian government and make gullible readers in the US and Europe think there's another Hitler on the loose in the middle east.

But people never seem to see through this -- even though there are reports from mercenaries who fought in Libya and are now fighting in Syria and saying that they are doing the same thing to Syria that they did to Libya.

The Assad government is far from perfect but it is a hell of a lot better than the new government in Libya which is now conducting a purge campaign against remaining Qaddafi followers. They are tracking them down and murdering them. These are the same thugs that NATO created for Libya and its plans for Syria are the same.

The Syrian government is controlled by the Ba'ath Party, the same party that Saddam Hussein came from. Ba'ath in Arabic means "rebirth or renaissance" and the party stood for Arab nationalism and development. It is the successor to Nasserism. It believes in freedom for Arabs and the progress of the people through education, modernization of the infrastructure, and a celebration of history. The colonizers in NATO and Israel hate this. They will not tolerate "nationalism" anywhere except in their countries. They will return Syria to the middle ages.

In reality, it is NATO and the US which are committing genocide.

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