At least 200 were reported killed Feb. 2 in the Syrian city of Homs as security forces pursued their campaign to take back opposition-held areas on the eve of a UN Security Council vote on a much-disputed resolution on the country’s crisis. Woman and children were among the dead in shelling of the city’s Khalidya district, according to the the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The Guardian, Feb. 3) That same day, Syrian security forces tightened their grip on the city of Hama (just to the north of Homs, see map) as protesters splashed red paint symbolizing blood in the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of the famous massacre carried out there by President Bashar Assad’s father and predecessor Hafez Assad. The 1982 Hama massacre, in which entire neighborhoods were levelled to put down a local rebbellion, has become a rallying cry for the Syrian uprising that began nearly 11 months ago. Amnesty International estimates up to 25,000 were killed in the massacre. Graffiti on the walls this week read: “Hafez died, and Hama didn’t. Bashar will die, and Hama won’t.” (AP, Feb. 2)
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Terror blasts hit Aleppo
As in December, mysterious explosions hit military and security buildings Feb. 10—this time in Aleppo, leaving at least 25 dead. The attacks come as tanks have been sent into Homs to put down the uprising there, and there is the requisite speculation that they are the work of the regime in a provocation (“false flag”) tactic… The government blamed “armed terrorist gangs” for the blasts. The Free Syrian Army admitted its forces were attacking one target, a Military Intelligence compound used by the pro-government Shabiha militia, “with small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire,” when it blew up. FSA spokesman Col. Mahir Nouaimi told AFP: “This criminal regime is killing our children in Homs and carrying out bomb attacks in Aleppo to steer attention away from what it is doing in Homs.” (AFP, Reuters, BBC News, Feb. 10)
Syrian regime spreads offensive to Hama
As heavy fighting continues on Homs, Syrian government forces have launched an offensive on Hama, firing on residential neighbourhoods from armored vehicles and mobile anti-aircraft artillery, opposition activists said. (Reuters, Feb. 15)