Siege of Homs Enters 21st Day As “Friends of Syria” Meet in Tunis

At a meeting in Tunis on Friday, the “Friends of Syria” — the United States, its Western allies and Arab nations — called on Syria to cease its attacks against Homs and other rebellious cities to allow humanitarian aid into the country, which has seen nearly a year of unrest. They also requested that the United Nations begin to prepare a peacekeeping force to send to Syria, despite the ongoing — indeed, the recent escalation — of violence. Officials also called on other nations to levy sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad and his top aides and pledged millions of dollars in aid in food and medicine.

But whether these threats will have any teeth remains to be seen. The shelling of Homs continued for the 21st straight day as the “Friends of Syria” met in Tunisia. No countries have spoken of using military force against the forces of Assad’s regime or of arming the Free Syrian Army, which is comprised of defectors from the Syrian army, though Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have spoken of such. The call for the UN to establish a peacekeeping mission will ultimately require approval by the Security Council, two of whose members, Russia and China, have vetoed an earlier resolution calling for Assad to step down.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal also said he supports arming the Syrian opposition; however, the Saudi delegation walked out of the meeting in Tunis, declaring that there was “inactivity” among the members of the group. As the New York Times observes, while the Saudi minister “expressed frustration that the world was not doing enough [for Syria] … his own government has brutally repressed domestic dissent.”

In a break with its longtime patron, a leader of Hamas has expressed support for the Syrian opposition. The remarks by Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, are certainly significant as Assad has previously provided safe haven to leaders of Hamas and helped supply it with both weapons and cash against Israel.

No Relief For Homs

The International Committee of the Red Cross did report on Friday that a small group of people from the Bab Amr neighborhood of Homs had been evacuated to a hospital in another part of the city. Shelling resumed soon after they left. Two Western journalists, Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy, who were wounded in an attack on Wednesday, were not among those evacuees; Bouvier was seriously wounded with a double fracture in one leg and is in urgent need of medical care that doctors in Bab Amr cannot provide. Update, 10:00 pm EST: The two wounded journalists have been evacuated out of Homs by the Red Cross, as have the bodies of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlak, who were killed on Wednesday.

At least 70 people were killed on Friday throughout Syria, according to activists. In the capital of Damascus, “hundreds” of plainclothes security forces were present throughout the main streets and squares and government buildings, in order to thwart protests of the size held a week ago.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said that “We are going to continue to keep the pressure up and look for every tool available to prevent the slaughter of innocents in Syria.” But as one resident of Bab Amr told the Guardian:

“Nothing has changed it is the same situation, the same siege. They keep killing and nobody cares about our lives. We feel a lot of anger.

“Is there any real action from the world? We don’t want statements. He [President Bashar al-Assad] will never stop. He will keep killing. We want them to protect our families, our children, our women. To provide food, to provide medicine. To remove this dictatorship from our head.”

The Bab Amr resident emphasized that civilians seek protection “of any kind.”


Previous Care2 Coverage

UN Accuses Syria of Crimes Against Humanity; Homs Under Siege

Did Syria Target Western Journalists Killed in Homs?

McCain and Graham: Send Arms to Syrian Opposition; Palmyra Under Siege

Map of neighborhoods in Homs from Wikimedia Commons


John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Michael C

Not even the armed opposition has dared to say that the vote was rigged. And it produced a majority for al-Assad.

Michael C.
Michael C4 years ago

While I am not a fan of President Bashar al-Assad, I have always been a fan of the truth.

Ask yourselves this...What measures would your Government go to, in an effort to restore civil order. The disorder has been characterized as Civil War and yet there is enough civility remaining to hold an election, no matter how slanted it might have been.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Sheila H

It's actually King Mohammed Sedeez in Morocco - Hassan Tieni was the one whose reign was called "the years of lead".

I cannot possibly remember a date for the Sky report. I can only help you by saying that Sky mentioned that other agencies had reported this too.

No Sheila. Your parody of my views is incorrect. I think people have a perfect right to think for themselves. I don't think that outside intervention is helpful though - quite the reverse. This intervention is now openly ackinowleged even in the UK press (The Telegraph 18th Feb) as being an unholy alliance of Zionist, al-Qaeda, Saudi/Qatari and western forces and direction. This is not a people-generated revolution, any more than the Ukrainian one was. It is financed by those from outside who have profit motives, political objectives and it makes me sick to think of the suffering they are inflicting on an innocent people.

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago

part 3

of having the freedom to express their views and even criticize their politicians, and of choosing who their government should be. And we’re mad about the bankers? Mere gnats in comparison with these guys. What would we have to say if we had to put up with that sort of a regime for over 40 years?

I hear that North Korea is very pleasant at this time of year, John. Why don’t you take a trip – it should suit you very well.

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


”; i.e. he sends in his provocateurs to create trouble and antagonisms between the minorities, which then provides him with the excuse for even stronger crack-down measures to keep the regime in power. That has been the Assad modus operandi for over 40 years.

The rest of what you have to say, I find just plain silly. You have no reasoned answers to the points I make. Instead, magpie-like you trawl the internet for any miniscule nugget of opinion that could back up your support for this murderous regime, and of course, ALL our journalists are stupid and liars.

But at least we can see your political views – truly soviet in style. Infantilize the people, don’t allow them to do their own thinking, ‘cos they may make some wrong choices – better some paternalistic authoritarian regime does all that for them. Keep the people poor and shackled, hand out a few freebies to keep them quiet and obedient at the whim of the regime, while said regime consolidates its power over the people through fear and terror and makes itself rich beyond compare on the backs of the people by robbing the country of all its wealth. But never, ever, allow the people the dignity of choice, of work and providing for their families as they think best; of making their own decisions on how they spend their money, rather than exist on hand-outs and rations; of having the freedom to express their views and even criticize their politicians, and of choosing who their

sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago

Hi John D.,

No, I didn’t see that report on Sky News (though I watch most) – must have missed that one. Have looked back through the archives and can’t find it. Perhaps you could let me know the date and time of broadcast so I can look it up.

The difference between Morocco and Syria? King Hassan responded to his people and embarked upon reforms, while Assad was firing on unarmed demonstrators for months before the demonstrators looked to arm themselves in self-defence, escalating it into siege and bombardment of innocent civilians in towns and city districts, refusing to have any meaningful dialogue or listen to any calls for rapprochement coming from the west or other Arab nations.

And the snipers are the opposition firing on their own unarmed families? Don’t make me laugh, you really are trawling the bottom of the barrel here. I know for a fact that the regime has its armed gangs, thugs and provocateurs to carry out its dirty work – always has had, even heard them acknowledge it. So pull the other one, John. Let us not forget what the Christian engineer from Damascus said, “The Assad regime uses it (the sectarian and ethnic differences) to play a game ….. but Assad is not protecting the minorities – he’s protecting himself with the minorities”; i.e. he sends in his provocateurs to create trouble and antagonisms between the minorities, which then provides him with the excuse for even stronger crack-down meas

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Part 2

That we must shatter a country and a people to "improve" it or help it whether we arm an outside oppostion, financed by some of the more repressive Arab regimes that contains elements of al-Qaeda, or we enforce ceasefires or zones? By the way, the oppostion, or elements of it (it is not united) certainly has called for outside intervention - the annoying young man who pops up on Sky so often and purports to represent the rebels asks for it every time.

I never said that there were no excesses or problems. Why has Moroco not erupted? The West encouraged dialogue and reform. It chose a different path for Syria and my friends there. The solution is worse than the problem.

Just a word about the snipers. They have appeared in every western generated insurrection for as long as I can remember. And everyone swallows the line that the various targetted governments are employing them. A moment's reflection would reveal that these are provocateurs put there to inflame the crowds - and it works every time. What possible reason would beleagered governments have for killing people ijn this way?

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Hi Sheila H. Once more thank you for the series of posts.

False reports and free press. We do not have a free press. We have a corporate Zionist influenced press that bangs the drum for war with partial reports and bias. They are beginning to report the truth at last, now that it can no longer be covered up. Even Sky News reported that people were burning car tyres on their roofs to make it look as if there had been missile strikes. The amount of lies the armed insurgents have been confirmed as having told makes all of their communiques suspect. The West has interfered in Iraq and Libya, as well as Yugoslavia and Kosovo for "humanitarian" reasons, having set the scene for the "need" for the intervention. The countries they have left are worse off than before (and at a price of millions of dead, maimed and displaced), narco-terrorists ruling in Kosovo and massive ethnic cleansing, a new near dictatorship in Iraq amidst the ruination of what were some of the best health and education services in the ME and what do the LIbyans have now? Nothing. Their 11 cents a gallon petrol has gone, grants for newly weds have gone (and all the other benefits} and revenge and terror is the order of the day; it'll take 10 years to get halfway back to the infrastructure they had before. And you applaud that we have set this up for Syria? That we must shatter a country and a people to "improve" it or help it whether we arm an outside oppostion, financed by some of the more repressive Arab regi

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L4 years ago


sheila h.
sheila haigh4 years ago


For too long the west has been prepared to keep tyrants in power, regardless of how badly they treated their people (“he may be a b*stard, but at least he’s OUR b*stard/he’s a b*stard we understand”), for fear of something worse. Well, finally the people are getting beyond fear and finding their courage to stand up for what THEY want. I have no doubt it will be very messy for a while, but in the hope of a better future for people who have suffered too much for too long, and are now paying the ultimate price, (and whom the western powers have betrayed far too often in the past) we have to stand with them and do all we can to relieve their suffering.