Syrian forces annihilating civilians, says opposition
Syrian opposition leaders said the government is carrying out a full-scale assault on the city of Homs and urged the Arab League to intervene.
Army-tank shells demolished 20 homes in one district of the city, killing about 45 people and wounding 245 in the past five days, Al Arabiya reported, citing activists. The Arab League denied a report by the television channel that President Bashar al-Assad's security forces wounded a member of its delegation in Syria, according to Egypt's state-run Middle East News Agency.
The Syrian National Council, an umbrella opposition movement, said yesterday that 4,000 Syrian soldiers were massing at the city. Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the organisation seeking to topple Mr Assad, told Al Arabiya yesterday that government forces were "annihilating" civilians in Homs.
"Residents are calling for help and warning of the imminent danger they face if the Arab League does not immediately send its observers there," the council said.
Ambassadors to Syria should visit the city to witness "the crimes" carried out by the Assad's security forces, Mr Ghalioun said.
Mr Assad said the unrest is caused by foreign provocateurs. "Armed terrorist groups" assaulted Syrian security forces, killing one and wounding eight in the Daraa province clashes, state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The authorities seized weapons, uniforms and explosives with Libyan operators, the agency said.
Arab League officials arrived in Syria on December 22 to prepare for the monitoring of an agreement aimed at ending nine months of violence. The organisation imposed sanctions on the country, and Syria agreed to allow in the observers only after its fellow Arab countries threatened to seek UN intervention. The UN has estimated that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the uprising.
Mr Ghalioun again blamed the government of Mr Assad for suicide bombings on December 23 that killed 44 people.
The agency on the day of the bombings said the attacks carried "the blueprints of al-Qa'ida". The government has blamed "terrorists" and foreign provocateurs for fomenting the anti-government protests. (Bloomberg)