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Syrian forces prepare for Homs offensive - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The words on a wall read "Don't come close. There is a sniper" in Wadi al-Sayeh in Homs June 22, 2013. Picture taken June 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Ibrahim

The words on a wall read “Don’t come close. There is a sniper” in Wadi al-Sayeh in Homs June 22, 2013. Picture taken June 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Ibrahim

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian government forces yesterday launched a massive attack on rebels in Homs, in order to secure the route between the capital of Damascus and the Syrian coast. This comes at a time when the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced it has regained control of a “strategic” area near Dera’a in the south.

Mohammed Sarmini, member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), told Asharq Al-Awsat, that “Homs was subjected to heavy fighting and ferocious attacks, coming under heavy bombardment by artillery and rocket launchers,” adding that “government forces, supported by Hezbollah fighters, were trying to storm a number of Homs suburbs.”

He said: “ [Government forces] opened eight fronts simultaneously, while fighting in the Homs suburbs, in order to close border crossings.” He added that the army was preparing to open another 14 fronts in Homs, to strengthen its hold on the area, and control the suburbs.”

Sarmini said the FSA “has stopped the government forces from advancing into Al-Khalidiyah district, and killed a number of Hezbollah fighters.”

He also said the opposition forces were in communication with fighters in the Hama and the northern region, and have requested reinforcements to be sent to the Homs region, to curtail the government forces’ advance.

Sarmini added that Hezbollah fighters were “trying to storm the Khalid bin Al-Walid Mosque in the Al-Khalidiyah district, in an attempt to destroy the historic building.”

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian air force “launched two air strikes at Homs districts, in tandem with artillery bombardment of the area,” adding that the regime forces were bringing reinforcements into the area surrounding Homs.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said: “units of our armed forces have made significant progress in Al-Khalidiyah district in Homs, after killing members of terrorist groups who were hiding the area.”

SANA quoted an unnamed official as saying that “our forces continue to pursue members of the terrorist gangs in the area to eliminate and arrest the remaining ones, and to restore security and stability.”

The FSA has meanwhile announced that it had regained control of a military checkpoint in Dera’a, southern Syria. The opposition said controlling the area will “safeguard the supplying of arms to the rebels in the Damascus region.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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