Tanks Surround Homs; Two Bombs Shake Aleppo
Syrians demonstrated throughout their country on Friday after prayers, chanting “Russia is killing our children”; Syrians around the world also protested in support. Since last Saturday when Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the violence and killings have only increased. The Local Coordinating Committee says that 52 people were killed on Friday. Activists estimate that 300 and even as much as 400 people have died in the past week as the regime, seemingly emboldened by Russia’s veto, has relentlessly shelled the central city of Homs.
Activists also report that tanks have been massing outside opposition neighborhoods in Homs including that of Bab Amr. The misery for residents of Homs has only increased, with reports of fast-dwindling shortages of food and medical supplies. Reporting from neighboring Lebanon, Al Jazeera‘s Rula Amin says that snipers have been shooting at those who try to help the wounded in the rubble of buildings. A report issued by Human Rights Watch said that “makeshift hospitals in besieged opposition areas were overflowing with dead and wounded” including, according to some reports, injured babies..
Deadly Bombing in Aleppo
Friday also saw violence in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city that is home to a business community which has remained supportive of the regime throughout the eleven-month uprising and seen few protests. But on Friday at least 28 were killed and 235 wounded in two bomb blasts at two security compounds. Shortly after the attacks, images of the destruction and of disfigured, bloody corpses appeared on Syrian state television.
The Syrian regime denounced the attacks as the work of “armed terrorist gangs.” Activists have accused Assad’s government of staging the attacks which, as the Guardian notes, resemble bombings in Damascus in December and in January in the “timing of the attacks, the way they were reported, and the subsequent dispute about who is to blame.” While two spokesmen for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) denied being responsible for the attacks, one commander initially said the FSA had instigated them; these confused claims reveal the group’s current “chaotic leadership.”
Syrian Crisis: A Failure of the United Nations?
The United Nations’ General Assembly will be discussing the crisis in Syria on Monday. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay will speak at the session; she has repeatedly stated that the Assad regime should face the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has accused the Syrian opposition as bearing “full responsibility” for the violence as it has refused to enter talks with the Syrian government. But on Friday Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah criticized Russia for supporting Assad, saying on Saudi state TV that
“There is no doubt that the confidence of the world in the United Nations has been shaken,” he said on Saudi state TV on Friday. “Unfortunately, what happened in the UN, in my opinion, is an unfavourable initiative.”:
The UN says that over 7,000 people have been killed in the eleven-month uprising. With the government tightly controlling foreign reporting from within Syria, citizen journalists have been seeking to report on the conflict using Twitter and social media sites and live video streams like this one on Bambuser.
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