Panic and carnage in Homs

2012-02-06 22:24

Beirut - Residents of Homs on Monday described scenes of panic and carnage in the city of central Syria undergoing a fierce assault by government troops, urging outside powers to intervene to halt the bloodshed.

"What is happening is indescribable," said Wael, a resident reached by telephone. "Security forces have been relentlessly shelling the city since this morning.

"On the streets, there are only bodies and wounded people along with tanks," he said. "There are tanks everywhere.

"People are in a state of panic and they are screaming, 'May God help us' or 'Where are the Arabs?'" he added. "We feel like the world has abandoned us."

Activists said the latest government assault on the city began at dawn with troops raining mortars and rockets on several neighbourhoods.

"We cannot venture outside because of the intensity of the shelling," said Saher, another resident. "The shells are coming down like rain."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 29 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded.

But it added the death toll was likely to rise because many of the wounded had suffered critical injuries.

'Armed gangs'

The shelling, which began at dawn, was mainly targeting the neighbourhoods of Khaldiyeh, Baba Amro, Inshaat and Bab Sbaa, the Britain-based group said.

Syrian state television accused "armed gangs" of being behind the latest violence in Homs, which has become a flashpoint of the near 11-month revolt that has killed at least 6 000 people across the country according to rights groups.

A resident of the battered city told AFP that Monday's assault was the most intense since the outbreak of the unrest in mid-March.

"What is happening is horrible, it's beyond belief," said Omar Shaker, an activist also reached by telephone. The sound of gunfire and loud explosions could be heard in the background as he spoke.

Shaker said activists were transporting the wounded to the city's mosques for treatment.

"There is nowhere to take shelter, nowhere to hide," he said. "We are running short on medical supplies and we are only able to provide basic treatment to the injured."

Residents said hospitals had also run out of blood supplies.

Footage shot by a BBC undercover team in Homs showed buildings ablaze in rebel neighbourhoods as regime forces pounded them with heavy weapons.

Plumes of white smoke billowed into the sky.

Chants of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) could be heard from balconies and rooftops as residents put on a show of defiance in the face of the onslaught.

Pools of blood

A video posted by activists on YouTube apparently showed a field hospital hit by the shelling in Baba Amro, one of the main targets of Monday's assault.

Wounded patients could be seen laying on stretchers on the floor amid pools of blood and shattered glass. Bodies of dead people with horrific injuries were also shown inside the hospital.

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.

"Let the Arabs and Muslims come and see this, this is a result of their inaction," said Mohamed Mohamed, who identified himself as a doctor at the hospital.

Wael said some residents were scared of leaving the city while others, especially those with children, were braving sniper fire and fleeing.

"We want the international community ... to get rid of [President Bashar] Assad," he said.

"Assad thinks he is going to scare people but they are going to rise up more and are more determined than ever."

  • Fred - 2012-02-06 22:44

    Shocking. This blood is on the Russian and Chinese regimes, not necessarily the Russian and Chinese people provided they stand up and demand their leaders to change their heartless ideas.

      Spyker - 2012-02-06 22:54

      The blood of Syrian citizens, are not only on the hands of the Russians and the Chinese, but also on the hands of all those who condemned the Nato intervention in Libya - for we would have witnessed the same barbarism if it were not for the Nato chivalry.

      Fred - 2012-02-06 23:09

      Couldn't agree more. Once a dictator decides to use the state machinery and military to hold onto power at any cost, including the lives of civilians, this decision must be looked squarely in the eye and change demanded, or else. Essentially these dictators are bullies. Assad is an emotionally dissaciated technocrat, a childish bully. His days are numbered, a byproduct of his own dissaciated decision.

      Jaba - 2012-02-07 07:12

      I am afraid that I have to add South Africa to Russia’s and China’s bloody hands, for we too have blood on our hands. ANC’s support for the murderous regimes of Syria & Libya will never be forgotten by the civilians in that side of the world. Amazing that after our difficult history, we (South African National Congress) support the murder of civilians up north, just because that specific wicked leader supported the ANC during Apartheid.

  • Mboneni - 2012-02-06 22:59

    The international community excluding Russia and China should intervene in Syria to stop the bloodshed.Bashar al Assad is not a product of election and does not understand the language of democracy.Russia and China are still stuck in the cold war mentality and also suppresing individual freedoms in their respective countries.They are making the UN a mochery

      Fred - 2012-02-06 23:10

      Well said.

  • Heibrin - 2012-02-07 01:17

    To those who screamed to high heaven when Nato interviened in Lybia: this is what happenes when you leave these situations 'to be dealt with internally'. Or by the Arab Union / African Union for that matter, neither have the capability to do what is required!

      Fred - 2012-02-07 04:34

      I agree, except that the Arab League is becoming more active, far more than the AU.

      Peter - 2012-02-07 05:58

      This time it is the Arabs or the East's turn to get involved, the West must stay out of it. Whenever they get involved they are accused of having alterior motives. There is absolutely no way they must get involved. Save the money, lives, and effort to help Westerners for a change. Time to stop being so helpful and generous.

      Peter - 2012-02-07 05:59

      Although in many instances the motives seem highly suspect???

      Jaba - 2012-02-07 07:21

      Peter - Some of the Arabs & the East are involved... Iran, Hezbollah (Popular Lebanon) Russia and China are either verbally of physically supporting the murder of thousands of Syrian civilians. I’m in agreement with you that the west should not help in order to teach them a lesson, sadly though that lesson is too expensive as so many people are being murdered in their own streets – someone must do something! This crime against humanity can not continue just because Russia and China say it could.

  • Garth - 2012-02-07 06:57

    It is in the best interests of the `west' to stay the hell out of this `middle-eastern' squabble. Whenever the USA, Britain and the rest of NATO intervene, a la Libya, they are immediately condemned upon the successful completion of their humanitarian mission as western imperialists, colonialists and exploiters of the indigenous populations. Stuff them! Let them stew in their own juices until the middle east gets its humanitarian finger out of its nose and applies it to direct action against Assad.

      Fred - 2012-02-07 18:50

      Yet we cannot.. It would be heartless and inhuman to allow this to continue.

  • Garth - 2012-02-07 07:02

    And, do not go blaming Russia and China for this - all they are doing is acting true to form. There is nothing in this for them, so why should they act? Too many people that comment in these forums condemn the West's humanitarian efforts as imperialist exploits for economic gain. Now look at your saviours against the `white west': the Chinese, the Arabs, the Russians . . . no dollar, no come help you!

      Jaba - 2012-02-07 07:27

      Russia and China acting in true form... it should still receive our condemnation as so many civilians are killed. I do hope that the Arab Spring hit Iran, Russia & China soon. To free 1,4 million people would be miraculous.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-02-07 08:06

      Syria is Russia's major ally in the region and China's getting $70 a barrel from them. Coming from the two coutries with the greatest loss of life attributed its own governments last century , human rights,human life and freedoms are not high on their value system.

      Xavier7034 - 2012-02-07 08:14

      This is the reason for both Russia & China's behaviour: Russia is one of Syria's biggest arms suppliers. And China ranked as Syria's third-largest importer. China sees Syria as an important trading hub, and the Russian need the warm water PORT CITY of Tartous for access to the Mediterranean. BOTTOM LINE? - Self Interest - same as Mainland China's (the new colonists) involvement in Africa.

      Erick Bukula - 2012-02-07 10:18

      Garth, if they don't wanna act @ least they should let those who wanna help to do so

      Fidel - 2012-02-08 01:53

      Substitute Syria to Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries and insert the US, Britain and France in the place of China and Russia and you begin to see that there are no good vs evil in geo politics but common interests.

      Fred - 2012-02-08 03:03

      Fidel, insert some heart and you'll realize the freer world has a conscience (remember that?) and is standing up for the people of Syria being mowed down by the brutal technocrat Assad. It would be far easier for it to do nothing.

  • faerrab - 2012-02-07 08:59

    Syria is a shortcut to Iran in anticipation of the the forthcoming attack therefore a regime collapse is required to ensure a clear passage to Iran

      Garth - 2012-02-07 12:11

      Do you honestly think that the muslim terrorists operating in Syria are on a leash held by the USA and Israel? Stay off that khat!

      Fred - 2012-02-07 18:54

      Yes but why is it good that the Syrian and Iranian regimes collapse? Because they're brutal and dishonest regimes that starkly go against the highest principles of humanity. This is where you and your fellow Islamists are so dumb and blind. Humanity has decided: no more.

  • Sean - 2012-02-07 09:37

    The russian and chinese veto of the UN resolution was a direct message to Assad letting him know he can do what he likes and his friends will protect him. Russia and China do not care about human rights.

      Shaun O'Meara - 2012-02-07 10:11

      lets also look at Egypt, now they have freedom they are turning on the very people that helped them attain that freedom. I don't like all this pointless killing either. behind the face of the innocent protester is a terrorist with a hidden agenda! they need to remove the regime that is friendly to the west so they are able to enforce the law of islam. The taliban have done such a great job elsewhere haven't they?

      Garth - 2012-02-07 12:12

      "Violence is well-known to breed violence, which is why most revolutions have degenerated into dictatorships, devouring their own offspring, not knowing that they were digging their own graves and confining society in a vicious circle of revolutions and counter-revolutions." : Vaclav Havel

      Fred - 2012-02-07 18:58

      Both come out of histories of murdering tens of millions of their own citizens. That's right, tens of millions. This is why it is so easy to see how these Islamists who come onto this site and decry the US and more modern world are so glaringly wrong.

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