Assad's forces bombard rebel stronghold
Syrian fighter jets and heavy artillery units pounded rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs on Saturday in what activists described as the fiercest push to take full control of the city in more than a year.
The bombardment of districts, including al-Qusoor, Khalidiya, Jouret al-Shiya and the ancient Old City, began about 9 a.m. and continued for three hours before the army deployed ground troops, activists said.
The government has been pressing a campaign against pockets of resistance in central Syria since taking control this month of the town of Qusair, which lies between the city of Homs and the Lebanese border. Once known as the capital of the revolution for its early role in the uprising against President Bashar Assad, Homs is divided between government-controlled and rebel-held areas, which have been under siege for the past year.
“It's the worst day since the beginning of the siege,” said Abu Rami, a spokesman for the opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission and a resident of al-Qusoor who uses a pseudonym. “Civilians can't leave. We are trapped.”
Abu Rami said five airstrikes had accompanied heavy shelling from tanks Saturday morning before the army and militiamen from the paramilitary National Defense Forces, mounted an offensive.
Video footage posted online Saturday showed thick plumes of smoke rising over the city to the sound of explosions.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.