67 Killed in Syria Today, Death Toll Rising in Homs
The Syrian regime’s assault on the city of Homs continued for a sixth straight day with residents saying they are under a “genocidal attack” and reports of over 57 people killed today, Thursday. The shelling has been focused on districts that are controlled by rebel forces; the BBC‘s Jim Muir, reporting from Lebanon, says that there are civilians as well as armed rebels in the area that has been the site of the worst shelling, Baba Amr. Activists report that an entire three families have been killed.
A total of 65 people have been killed throughout Syria on Thursday in assaults by government troops, according to the opposition group, the Local Coordinating Committee. The aid group Doctors Without Borders issued a report on Wednesday saying that the Syrian government has been blocking medical care for activists and the hundreds others injured in the violence.
Putin Criticizes Western Nations: “A Bull in a China Shop”
On Wednesday, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon said that the failure to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria has led the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to “step up its war on its own people.” Last weekend, both Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that called for Assad to step down and transfer power to a unity government. Speaking about the Syrian crisis for the first time publicly, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said that his country’s stance was “unbiased” while that of the US and Western nations is like “a bull in a china shop.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Damascus on Tuesday and said that Assad has indicated he is ready to talk with “all political forces” to end the brutal crackdown. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said that he had “very little confidence” in such being the case; White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Assad has “missed the opportunity” for dialogue. Assad has made such promises to “reform” throughout the many months of the crisis but all have turned out to be hollow, based on the continuing violence — over 7,000 have been killed by security forces since March.
UN chief Ban also said that the head of the Arab League is planning to send observers back into Syria and mentioned the possibility of a joint mission with the UN. Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey — a close ally of Syria’s at the start of the unrest that has repeatedly expressed its objections to the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown — has also spoken of plans for an international meeting. The 27-member European Union is considering harsher sanctions against Syria, including bans on commercial flights between Syria and Europe, on financial transactions with the Syrian central bank and on the import of Syrian phosphates (the EU imports 40 percent of Syria’s phosphate exports).
Homs is Syria’s third-largest city and has been an epicenter of unrest since the protests started almost a year ago, in March of 2011. The family of Assad’s British-born wife, Asma, is from Homs and many have speculated about her silence in the escalating crisis.
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