“Death Squads” Besiege Syrian City of Homs (VIDEO)


Since Monday night, armed troops and tanks — “death squads,” as one resident said in Al Jazeera — have laid siege to the city of Homs. Homs has been a center of the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since, two months ago, the city was laid siege to. But those efforts have not quelled the unrest, which has spread throughout the city. Residents are fighting back and claiming that pro-government gangs of Alawis are being “armed by the regime and armed gangs known as shabiha (ghosts) roaming the streets and helping to crush protests.”

Just yesterday, at least 13 civilians were reported killed in Homs, says the Guardian; among those killed were three mourners at a funeral. 30 are said to have died over over the weekend in sectarian violence, after the dismembered bodies of three Assad supporters who had been kidnapped and killed were returned to their families. The three killed were Alawites, members of the minority Shi’ite sect that Assad’s family belongs to. The video below is said to show the attacks by security forces on protesters in Homs on Tuesday:

Homs has a population of about 1.5 million and is about 100 miles north of the capital of Damascus. It is also the hometown of Assad’s Sunni wife, Asma.

The Guardian reports that George Sabra, a leading Syrian opposition figure and member of the National Democratic Party, has been arrested today in Damascus. He had previously been arrested on April 10 by Assad’s regime. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria also said that “arbitrary” arrests occurred throughout the country, in the suburbs of Damascus and in Homs.

Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem has warned the US and French ambassadors not to travel outside Damascus without permission. If they defy the orders, all diplomats will be banned from leaving the capital. The week before last, US ambassador Robert S. Ford and French ambassador Éric Chevallier had traveled to the city of Hama, the site of a brutal crackdown 30 years ago in which at least 10,000 were killed under Assad’s father, Hafez Assad. Residents said that the American and French ambassadors’ presence played a part in preventing further violence against Hama’s residents by security forces.

Al Jazeera also reports that “diplomatic pressure” is rising on Assad, with former supporter Qatar closing its embassy in Damascus and the European Union considering harsher sanctions.

Syrian activists in Washington, DC, have been warned about their safety by the FBI, according to the Washington Post. Hala Abdul Aziz, a Syrian who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, says her father was shot and killed by government security forces in the southern city of Daraa in April. After receiving a call from a man threatening her daughter and other family members, she contacted the FBI:

“I assumed that the threat came from the embassy,” Abdul Aziz said. She and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in May seeking damages from the Syrian government, drawing television news coverage.

She met twice with an FBI agent, who said that he would look into who made the call, and who has been in touch with her by telephone several times since.

The FBI has called and met with other prominent Syrian and Syrian American activists in recent weeks, asking questions about the situation in Syria and their roles in the opposition movement and voicing concern for their safety.

The Syrian ambassador has denied that such threats have been made.

At least 1,400 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising, which has now entered its fifth month, and at least 10,000 detained.

Related Care2 Coverage

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US & French Embassies Attacked in Damascus

Syria Surveilling Protesters in US; Hama Greets US Envoy (VIDEO)

Photo of protest in Doumas in April 2011 by syriana2011


Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance7 years ago

It seems that the Arab Spring has demonstrated the axiom so clearly: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

People are people the world over --- they want to live with dignity; they want a good life for their children; they want freedom from repressive laws, unemployment and poverty; they want safety.

If you look at many of the North African, Arabian Peninsula and Middle East countries, they have had long standing monarchies or dictatorships --- the family business. Like many family businesses, outsiders are not welcome. Fear sets in because they may have to share the business with non family members so the business becomes repressive. Often having come to power during civil unrest from a previous régime that they judged unfit and repressive, they cling to power through any method that accomplishes their goal of remaining in power, even though it be repressive. When will this insanity stop?

Around, around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel . . . . .

Let's put the welfare of all people first! Stop the negative aspects of tribalism; stop the economic destruction that leaves so many unemployed or underemployed; stop religious zealotry and exclusionism; stop the poverty that leads to famine and disease; stop the persecution of minorities and those that "are different".

What can we do here --- support those struggling for basic human rights. Live simply so others can simply live.

Scott M.
Its wonderful e7 years ago

Just another middle east nutcase

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Ernie Miller
william Miller7 years ago


Denny S.
Denny S7 years ago

This is when humans casualties are nothing more than a collateral damage for the cause from both side. Miss leaded politic and hate will make it easier for those with weapon to open fire even to their own countrymen. I hoped they would come their senses and they realize reasons for their disputes.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C7 years ago

Civil war is horrible, but even worse would be foreign intervention like in Libya.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers7 years ago

What a terrifying situation for these poor people.

Susan T.
Susan T7 years ago

This is almost a full blown civil war. What a night mare for the Syrians.