Al-Assad deploys tanks to Homs city
DAMASCUSSyria’s military sent tanks and other reinforcements toward the restive central city of Homs yesterday in what appears to be preparations by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for an offensive aimed at retaking rebel-held neighborhoods, activists said.
Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso said he does not think the regime will be able to retake Homs through military force as residents plan to fight until “the last person.” He added that Homs is facing “savage shelling that does not differentiate between military or civilians targets.” Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he expects the regime to try retake the Baba Amr district of Homs. Activists and Syrian state media reported that at least 14 people were killed Feb. 19. In neighboring Lebanon, security officials said at least three wounded Syrians were brought for treatment in the eastern town of Chtoura.
Many Syrians call Baba Amr “Syria’s Misrata,” a reference to the Libyan city where rebels fought off a brutal government siege for weeks, managed to hold the city and went on to play a key role in overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi last year. “The human loss is going to be huge if they retake Baba Amr,” Abdul-Rahman said. The Observatory said that Feb. 20’s shelling of Baba Amr killed five civilians.