Monday, February 20, 2012

Syrian army reinforcements head to Homs

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's military sent tanks and other reinforcements toward the restive central city of Homs on Monday in what appears to be preparations by President Bashar Assad's regime for an offensive aimed at retaking rebel-held neighborhoods, activists said.

Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso told The Associated Press he does not think the regime will be able to retake Homs through military force as residents plan to fight until "the last person." He added that Homs is facing "savage shelling that does not differentiate between military or civilians targets."

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he expects the regime to try retake the Baba Amr district of Homs. Many Syrians call Baba Amr "Syria's Misrata," a reference to the Libyan city where rebels fought off a brutal government siege for weeks, managed to hold the city and went on to play a key role in overthrowing dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.

"The human loss is going to be huge if they retake Baba Amr," Abdul-Rahman said.

The Observatory said that Monday's shelling of Baba Amr killed five civilians.

In neighboring Lebanon, security officials said at least three wounded Syrians were brought for treatment in the eastern town of Chtoura. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the wounded came from the Baba Amr attacks.

Amateur videos posted online showed what activists said were shells falling into Baba Amr. Black smoke billowed from residential areas. Read More