Syria crisis: Forces tighten grip on Baba Amr in Homs
Published: 1st Mar 2012 10:46:52
Syrian forces have tightened their stranglehold on the city of Homs, a day after launching a ground assault on the rebellious Baba Amr district.
Communication with the area has been largely cut off, and people are struggling to get in or out.
Opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Council has formed a military bureau to help support the rebels.
And the UN's rights council has passed a resolution condemning "systematic violations" against civilians.
The motion, supported by 37 nations, called for the regime to allow access for aid agencies, and demanded an immediate halt to the violence.
China and Russia, which have both vetoed UN resolutions on Syria, voted against the proposal. Cuba also rejected the motion.
The vote carries no legal weight, but analysts say it may embolden diplomats to take a tougher line in UN Security Council debates.
I can't really compare Homs to any other war zone I have worked in - apart, perhaps, from Chechnya.
I was based in a makeshift operating theatre. Everyone is too scared to go to the state-run hospital - they are terrified of having a limb amputated, or of being kidnapped. Only the Syrian army soldiers go there now.
I operated on 90 people. We couldn't help those who had been injured in the chest and the head, only those with wounds to the abdomen and below.
The people there are convinced that they will win. They are very brave but they are also desperate at having been bombarded for so long. They think they have been abandoned.
In other developments:
The Baba Amr district, where many opposition fighters are believed to be sheltering, has been under bombardment for almost a month.
Many of the area's estimated 100,000 residents have fled to escape the siege, and it is unclear how many are still trapped.
Ground troops moved into the besieged quarter earlier this week, and state TV broadcast footage of smashed and empty streets with the sound of gunfire reverberating.
Government officials claimed to have taken control of Baba Amr late on Wednesday, and said troops were now "mopping up" pockets of resistance.
But opposition activists strongly denied those claims, saying fighters from the Free Syrian Army had managed to push back regime forces.
"They've been trying to enter the neighbourhood of Baba Amr but the Free Syrian Army is fighting back," one activist said.
Kofi Annan: "It is when the international community speaks with one voice that its voice is powerful"
"It's just miserable here in Baba Amr."
The Syrian National Council said it had formed a military bureau to co-ordinate the Free Syrian Army with the wider political opposition.
"The Syrian revolution began as a non-violent movement and has maintained its peaceful nature for months. The situation has changed and the SNC will shoulder its responsibilities in light of this new-found reality," the council said in a statement.
The statement did not mention supplying arms to the rebels, but pledged to "work on providing the FSA with all the support it needs to completely fulfil its defence responsibilities".
Several Western journalists trapped in the latest bombardment in Homs have managed to escape to neighbouring Lebanon in recent days.
But two French journalists, Edith Bouvier, who is seriously wounded, and William Daniels, remain unaccounted for.
Activists say more than 7,500 people have died since the uprising against Mr Assad's government began last March.
The government, however, says at least 1,345 members of the security forces have been killed combating "armed gangs and terrorists", and puts the number of civilians killed at 2,493.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Syria crisis: Forces tighten grip on Baba Amr in Homs [Online] (Updated 1st Mar 2012)
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