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Syrian Regime Intensifies Shelling of Homs | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The word ‘Homs’ reads on a wall riddled with holes, in the besieged area of Homs. (R)

The word 'Homs' reads on a wall riddled with holes, in the besieged area of Homs. (R)

The word ‘Homs’ reads on a wall riddled with holes, in the besieged area of Homs. (R)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Syrian regime’s forces yesterday continued to shell several districts of the city of Homs, both from land and air. They also continued to blockade the city. The latest round of shelling comes after the Baba Amr Revolutionaries Battalion, affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), managed to retake the district of Baba Amr, which had previously been tightly controlled by government forces.

Activists operating on the ground in Homs confirmed that the FSA has seized control of the entire district of Baba Amr, and parts of the nearby district of Al-Inshaat. The activists added that violent clashes broke out on all fronts in Homs during Sunday night and Monday morning.

Abu Khaled Al-Homsi, spokesman for the Homs local coordination committees, told Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that clashes broke out near a political security outpost, causing regime personnel inside to withdraw and all detainees to be moved to the central security prison. He added that the regime’s soldiers then returned to the post following a tactical withdrawal by the FSA, because the area is densely populated and there were fears it may be exposed to an aerial bombardment.

Earlier, the local coordination committees reported that the Homs districts of Baba Amr and Al-Khalidiya, along with some districts of the old city, had come under violent bombardment from rocket launchers and large-caliber artillery guns.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that warplanes were targeting Baba Amr while military forces were amassing in the nearby district of Karm Al-Shami. The observatory also added that clashes had erupted in some parts of the district.

In Al-Qusayr, coordination committees announced yesterday that Osama Abdul Basit Al-Talib, also known by the alias Rami Kamil, a media activist and member of the Homs opposition, was killed as the city came under shelling. The committees remarked that he was one of the first activists to cover the developments of the Syrian revolution and convey the true picture to the media. A number of others were killed and wounded as a result of the shelling.

The city of Al-Rastan has been subjected to violent artillery bombardment once again. Scores of people were wounded when warplanes, DShK guns, mortars, and rocket launchers shelled Al-Dar Al-Kabirah, Tir M’allah, and Al-Qaryah. Simultaneously, the regime’s forces also bombarded Talbiseh and the Al-Basatin district of Tadmur city, with many wounded as a result.

The city of Homs is enduring extremely difficult circumstances as a result of the regime’s blockade, food shortages, and rising prices.

Abu Khaled informed Asharq Al-Awsat that 80 percent of Homs residents fled the city a year ago and have not returned to date. He said that the infrastructure of most districts has been destroyed after they suffered great damage. There is no electricity or fresh water in the city, and not a single building has escaped the shelling and destruction. Abu Khaled added that bread and flour are scarce, and that the price of one liter of fuel has reached SYP 400.

Meanwhile, the regime’s bombardments have also struck Syria’s soccer pitches once again. Several mortar shells fell in the vicinity of the Tishrin Stadium in the Baramkeh district of Damascus. One shell landed in the stands, leaving six people with shrapnel wounds as a result, a reliable source told the Agence France-Presse. Among the victims were sports journalist Younes al-Masri, who works for the Syrian Al-Riyadiah newspaper, Wa’il Ghayth, the backup goalkeeper for Baniyas Refinery SC, and team administrator Karim Hammud. No confirmed deaths were reported.

One month ago, a mortar shell struck Tishrin Stadium shortly before a match between Al-Wathba SC, based in Homs, and Nawair SC, based in Hama. Yussef Sleiman, a player for Al-Wathba SC, was killed while four other players were wounded as a result.