Thursday, 9 February 2012

Homs: Tanks and Soldiers on the streets

 Damaged Tank in Homs (Reuters)
Damaged Tank in Homs (Reuters)
SYRIA- Despite Syria`s regime crackdown on protesters, activists reported that demonstrations against the regime are continuing throughout the country, according to International and foreign press reports on Wednesday.

In turn, Syria state-run media, Syria TV & SANA news agency, said Wednesday “Armed terrorist groups on Tuesday continued their attacks against civilians in Daraa and Homs.”

Syria's state-run TV reported that gunmen fired mortar rounds at the oil refinery in Homs, one of two in Syria, setting two fuel tankers on fire but firefighters were able to control the blaze afterward. The TV also reported that gunmen attacked Homs' Baath University causing damage but no casualties.
In turn, SANA reported “The bodies of 13 army martyrs on Monday were escorted from Tishreen Military Hospital to their final resting place.”

SANA added “The martyrs were killed by the armed terrorist groups while on duty in Damascus Countryside, Daraa, Lattakia and Homs.”

Clashes and gunfire incidents were also reported by SANA on Tuesday “Armed terrorist groups attacked civilians and Law-enforcement Forces; Authorities confront terrorists and dismantle explosives.”

In Homs, Foreign press reports said “dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed overnight by government forces. Activists say rockets and mortar rounds have been used to subdue opposition districts.”

“Tanks have also entered certain neighbourhoods and seem poised to push deep into residential areas.” press reports added.

According to same press reports, “Neither reports nor images from Homs can be verified but it appears that ordinary families are bearing the brunt of the Syrian army’s offensive. Rooftop snipers are allegedly taking potshots at anyone trying to escape.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Associated Press that at least 50 people were killed in Wednesday's shelling of the Homs neighborhoods of Bayadah, Baba Amr, Khaldiyeh and Karm el-Zeytoun.

The group also said that 23 homes were heavily damaged in Baba Amr alone, according to AP report on Wednesday.

The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, also reported intense clashes between troops loyal to Assad and defectors on Wednesday in the province of Idlib, bordering Turkey. The Observatory said at least five soldiers were killed in the clashes.

The LCC said troops backed by tanks were also shelling and pushing forward in the southern village of Tseel in the Daraa province that borders Jordan. The group also said that rebel-controlled Zabadani, west of Damascus, was subjected to intense shelling since the early hours of the day.

Other reports talked about protests and clashes at Damascus countryside, Sweida and Aleppo countryside along with eastern cities next to Iraqi and Turkish borders.

Though increasingly ostracized internationally, the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was bolstered by Tuesday's visit from Lavrov and Russia's intelligence chief, Mikhail Fradkov. During the talks, the Russians pushed for a solution that would include reforms by the regime as well as the dialogue with the opposition.

President al-Assad said Syria was determined to hold a national dialogue with the opposition and independent figures, and that his government was "ready to cooperate with any effort that boosts stability in Syria," according to state news agency SANA.

The Syrian opposition rejects any talks with the regime and says they accept nothing less than President Bashar al-Assad's departure.

The U.N. estimates the government crackdown has killed more than 5,400 people since March, making Syria's conflict one of the deadliest of the Arab Spring.

Hundreds more are believed to have died since the U.N. released that figure in January, but the chaos in the country has made it impossible for the world body to update its figures.

Human rights groups and activists say more than 7,000 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since the uprising began in March.

But the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says at least 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed fighting "armed gangs and terrorists".

Syria has blocked access to trouble spots and prevented independent reporting, making it nearly impossible to verify accounts from either side as the conflict spirals out of control and turns increasingly violent.

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