Wed, Feb 15, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Syria’s Homs in heaviest shelling for days: monitor

AFP, BEIRUT

Army tanks are seen stationed at the entrance to the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs, Syria, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battered Homs yesterday in some of the heaviest shelling for days in the central flashpoint city, a monitoring group said.

“The shelling of the Baba Amr neighborhood began at dawn and is the most intense in five days,” Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Two rockets are falling a minute on average,” the head of the Britain-based organization said by telephone, citing activists on the ground.

Hadi Abdullah of the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution, an opposition activist group, said the shelling of Baba Amr was extremely heavy.

HUMANITARIAN SITUATION

“The situation is tragic. There are pregnant women, people with heart problems, diabetics and, foremost, wounded people who we cannot evacuate,” he said by telephone from the beleaguered city.

“On Monday evening three activists entered the town by car transporting bread, baby milk and medicine,” he said. “Their car was hit by a rocket. They all burned to death.”

“We told them it was dangerous, but they said: ‘If we don’t help the residents, who will?’” Abdullah said.

Abdullah said the humanitarian situation was worsening in Homs.

“The urgency is to evacuate the wounded. How can we let them die in cold blood?” he said.

“For one week, the dead have been buried in gardens, because even the cemeteries and graves are being targeted. People are crammed into shelters,” he added.

At the UN General Assembly, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Monday the Syrian government’s assault on Homs has killed at least 300 people since Feb. 4, citing credible sources on the ground.

The Homs assault began on the same day Russia and China vetoed a second UN Security Council resolution on Syria, which has vowed to maintain its campaign to crush dissent regardless of Arab and Western peace initiatives.

UN INACTION

Pillay added that the UN’s inaction was inflaming the bloodshed.

“The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force,” Pillay said.

Since the crackdown was launched less than a year ago, more than 6,000 people have been killed, monitors say. The UN puts the figure at above 5,400 killed last year.

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