Avaaz: Regime forces launch major offensive on Insha’at, Homs.

Monday February 27, 2012

Regime forces launch major offensive on Insha’at, Homs – residents fear the beginning of massacre

HOMS — Troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad launched a major ground invasion into the Homs neighbourhood of Insha’at in the early hours of this morning. Residents fear a massacre as the ground assault — which they had warned of for weeks — gets underway. At least 21 people have been killed by shelling in Baba Amr so far today. Sources Avaaz reached inside Homs expect many, many more to die today.

Eyewitnesses speaking to Avaaz reported dozens of tanks entering the neighbourhood and shelling the besieged opposition stronghold of Baba Amr. Insha’at is much closer to Baba Amr, substantially heightening the impact of the shelling. One activist told Avaaz that he had counted 60 shells or mortars falling in 5 minutes.

One eyewitness said: “Insha’at borders Baba Amr so the regime is now very close to its main target. They are close enough to shell it with tanks. Baba Amr is full of resistance fighters so the regime knows it will be difficult to defeat them. So they want to destroy it completely from outside before they send in forces on the ground so they kill as many FSA fighters as possible.”

Like Baba Amr, Insha’at has been shelled consistently for the past month, to the point where at least 80 per cent of its inhabitants have fled – around 15,000 people – those with money to Damascus and Aleppo, others remain homeless in the countryside surrounding Homs.

Those few who remain in the neighbourhood struggle to survive in dire circumstances, living in the rubble of shelled houses with almost no food, fuel for heating or clean water.

Alice Jay, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said: “This is an announced, full-on massacre of an entire region. The international community must now step in to save men, women and children from the unfettered killing, or its complacency will leave blood on its hands. In the face of this devastating assault, the support that Russia, China and Iran have lent the regime is not just shameful, it is criminal — and it is time for them to call an end to the brutality.”

Lina Tibi, a Cairo-based member of the Syrian National Council, said: “The Assad regime is trying to cut Homs apart. The regime is carrying out genocide, especially in Insha’at today as the regime attempts to destroy Baba Amr to quell the revolution. We are calling for immediate help from the international community for the people of Homs, who urgently need water, food, baby formula and blankets, in addition to basic medicines as supplies have completely run out. The situation has never been more critical.”

More than 5,000 refugees are still trapped in the outskirts of Jobar, after the army launched a major attack last night. Shelling of houses and clashes with FSA fighters continues today.

Regime security forces are holding between 17-20 women in the al-Baath school in Jobar.
Two men from Jobar were executed by security forces last night, according to residents. One source said: “They killed one man and burned the other. There are executions in many homes.”

Houses in the wealthy Sunni neighbourhood of Insha’at have been taken over by regime forces, with widespread looting of valuables reported.

Baba Amr being shelled this morning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4YK3zrzd4E&feature=youtu.be

Destruction in Baba Amr caused by regime shelling (gunfire can be heard) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbum66HwRjc&feature=youtu.be


For further details please contact Will Davies on +447855419901 or will@avaaz.org

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