Syria: Grip Tightens on Homs’ Baba Amr District
(WASHINGTON) -- The relentless shelling and bombardment of Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, was as fierce Wednesday as it has been for the past three weeks.
Alex Renton, from the activist organization Avaaz, which has established a network of activists and civilian journalists on the ground in Syria, told ABC News that there had been fighting “on all sides of Baba Amr,” a section of Homs the Syrian military is trying to recapture, “but not yet inside.” Renton described the shelling as “unprecedented.”
Communications and power have reportedly been cut since Tuesday.
Homs is under fire from heavy artillery, rockets and tanks, and the noose is tightening, particularly around the Homs district of Baba Amr. An unnamed security official told AFP that “the army has started combing the area building by building and house by house. Now the troops are searching every basement and tunnel for arms and terrorists,” which is what the Syrian government has said it’s doing since the uprising began last March — fighting against “armed gangs” and “terrorists.”
One Syrian activist told the BBC that there were about 400 Free Syrian Army rebel fighters in Baba Amr who “will fight to the end.” At least 100,000 residents are trapped in Baba Amr, where American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed last week in an attack on a makeshift media center. French reporters Edith Bouvier and William Daniel remain.
The regime’s bloody crackdown continues a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate hearing that Assad could be considered a war criminal.
According to the United Nations, the death toll has now reached 7,500, a number disputed by Syrian activists, who claimed that more than 8,000 Syrians have been killed in the violence that has spread to several pockets of the country.
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