Siege 'sending Syria back to Middle Ages'
Published 15/02/2012 | 05:00
SYRIA'S regime escalated its bombardment of Homs yesterday after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged "each and every member of the international community" to "protect the Syrian population".
More shells fell on Bab al-Amr, an area of the city of Homs where rebels of the Free Syrian Army have a strong presence. At least six people died in this bombardment, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based body, adding that this was the heaviest barrage for five days.
Electricity and water supplies have been severed in some areas of Homs, while casualties are often afraid to seek treatment in government hospitals.
Patients are routinely arrested and denied care if the authorities suspect them of opposing President Bashar al-Assad. An internet video appeared to show opposition supporters in Homs using carrier pigeons to deliver messages. One activist is shown among the birds, saying: "We thank Bashar for taking us back to the Middle Ages."
The assault on Homs is designed to re-establish Mr Assad's control over a city of one million, which controls vital transport links between Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, as well as possessing an oil refinery and a pipeline.
Mr Pillay told the General Assembly that the "failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault".
Ten days ago, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have urged Mr Assad to accept an Arab League peace plan. (© Daily Telegraph, London)