Assad's forces attack opposition on fronts across Syria

 

Syrian government forces
attacked opponents of President Bashar al-Assad on several fronts today, sending residents fleeing from one town near the capital and
bombarding the city of Homs for an 11th day running, activists said.

Citizens of Homs - Syria's third largest city with one million people - faced a humanitarian crisis. Food and fuel were scarce and most shops shut due to relentless shelling and rocket fire that have trapped people in their homes.

With Assad seemingly oblivious to international condemnation of the tactics employed to crush the uprising against his 11-year rule, Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia pushed for a new resolution at the United Nations supporting their peace plan.

The redoubled diplomatic effort came as the UN human rights chief chastised the Security Council for failing to act on Syria, saying Assad had been emboldened by its failure to condemn him.

"I am particularly appalled by the ongoing onslaught on Homs ... According to credible accounts, the Syrian army has shelled densely populated neighbourhoods of Homs in what appears to be an indiscriminate attack on civilian areas," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a speech to the General Assembly in New York yesterday.

The Russian- and Iranian-backed Assad, whose Alawite-minority family has ruled the mainly Sunni Muslim country for 42 years, is struggling to put down street demonstrations and stop insurgent attacks across the country.

He dismisses his opponents as terrorists backed by enemy nations in a regional power-play and says he will introduce reforms on his own terms.

Conflict flared anew today in Rankous, a country town near the capital Damascus that was hit by government shelling. Activist Ibn Al-Kalmoun, reached by Skype from Beirut, said phone lines had been cut and many residents had fled.

In Homs, a city in western Syria at the heart of the 11-month-old uprising, the pro-opposition neighbourhood of Baba Amro was struck at dawn by the heaviest shelling in five days, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights said.

Activist Hussein Nader said it was not possible to go to the streets to survey the damage or look for casualties.

"They are hitting the same spots several consecutive times, making venturing out there impossible. The shelling was heavy in the morning and now it is one rocket every 15 minutes or so," Hussein said by satellite phone.

"Residents are trapped. We have a man who sustained severe burns and is dying and he needs a hospital."

The man was in a truck picking up wounded people in Baba Amro overnight when it was hit by rocket fire, he said.

Mohammad al-Mohammad, a doctor at a makeshift hospital in Baba Amro, appeared in a video with a wounded youth he said was shot by sniper in his side.

"The bullet ended up in the stomach. This is a critical condition that needs transportation to a proper hospital," Mohammad said. "We appeal to anyone with conscience to intervene to stop the massacres of Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts."

Food and fuel prices had tripled and gangs were looting houses, activists said.

Mohammad al-Homsi said the situation was getting worse.

"Army roadblocks are increasing around opposition districts. There is a pattern to the bombardment now. It is heavy in the morning, then gives way to an afternoon lull and resumes at night," Homsi said from the city.

"Shells are falling at random, almost everyone in a residential building in Baba Amro has moved to the ground floor. It is normal to find up to six families living together on the lower levels," activist Hussein Nader said by phone from Homs.

Shelling was also reported in the town of Rastan early today.

Foreign media have had to rely on activists' accounts of the situation because the Syrian government restricts access, although reports from neutral organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch confirm the general picture of widespread violence.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine