Syria Forces Shell Homs Amid Assault Fears
Beirut. Syrian regime forces bombarded rebel districts of the flashpoint city of Homs on Wednesday for a 26th straight day, monitors said, as activists feared an all-out assault on the Baba Amr neighborhood.
“Sporadic shelling hit Baba Amr,” on Wednesday morning, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
Regime forces killed 32 civilians across Syria on Tuesday, including 20 in Homs alone, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that 11 soldiers were killed in clashes with rebels.
Abdel Rahman said that shelling also hit the Khaldiyeh and Bayyada neighborhoods, where rebels have been active.
Homs-based activist Hadi Abdullah too said there had been sporadic shelling of rebel districts.
He said power had been cut to most of the city, a measure he said could presage an imminent attack on Baba Amr and other neighborhoods.
Abdullah said on Tuesday that elite troops of the Fourth Armored Division, commanded by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother, Maher, had deployed around Baba Amr with their tanks.
On Wednesday, he said that troops had pulled back from some checkpoints near Khaldiyeh and Bayaada, in another move that could be a prelude to a major onslaught.
He said the “last” smuggling route to get food into Bab Amr was blocked on Tuesday after being discovered by regime forces.
He said troops had blown up the underground aqueduct, wounding several people who had been trying to bring in desperately needed supplies.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that well over 7,500 people have been killed since protests against Assad’s regime erupted in March last year.
Diplomats said that the United States had begun work on a new draft UN Security Council resolution demanding that the Damascus government allow humanitarian access to besieged protest cities such as Homs.