18 babies among 100 killed by Syrian forces in Homs
DPA BEIRUT SYRIAN government forces on Wednesday pushed deep into the restive central province of Homs, killing at least 100 people including the deaths of a reported 18 babies, opposition activists told DPA.
“The number of deaths is most likely to increase. We are unable to check the exact casualties due to the intensity of the shelling and sniper fire,” Omar Homsi, an activist based in Homs, told DPA by a satellite phone. “This is a real war. All telephone lines are cut. People are dying from their wounds inside their homes. The situation is disastrous,” he added, as the sounds of exploding shells echoed in the background. He said that at least 23 buildings were completely destroyed in the “non-stop” shelling that targeted the Homs district of Baba Amr sincedawn.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the deaths included three entire families. The victims also included 18 premature newborns who died in a hospital due to the electricity cuts in Homs, reported activists. It is hard to independently verify news in Syria, as the authorities have barred most foreign media since the anti-government uprising started in mid- March. Homsi, the activist, appealed to the International Red Cross to help save the injured people in the province.
Saleh Dabbikeh, the ICRC spokesperson in Damascus, told DPA by phone that committee was coordinating with the Syrian Red Crescent to send more medical supplies to Homs. Elsewhere, Syrian military forces on Wednesday attacked areas in the dissident southern province of Daraa, an opposition organization said.
“The onslaught is on the scale of the one the regime has been unleashing against Homs since the early hours (of Wednesday),” said Asil Abdullah of the Syrian Media Centre in Daraa. He told the broadcaster Al Arabiya it was difficult to specify casualties in Daraa in what he said was a massive scale offensive in response to defections from the army. The Syrian state news agency meanwhile, reported that “armed terrorists” set alight a gas pipeline in Homs. Activists said it was hit by the heavy shelling on the province. Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for immediate action to halt an escalation of violence in Syria.
“I am appalled by the Syrian government’s wilful assault on Homs, and its use of artillery and other heavy weaponry in what appears to be indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in the city,” she said.
The surge in violence came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus. Lavrov defended his country’s veto against a UN resolution on Syria earlier in the week.
“What we stopped was the possibility to send military units, which would fight against government forces, and would occupy cities,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
“It is absolutely outside any reasonable framework to create a UN resolution that assumes only government forces are firing on peacefuldemonstrators.
Half of the truth is worse than a lie,” he added. Last October, Russia vetoed a UN move condemning the Syrian government for the deadly crackdown on dissent.