By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2)
“I look forward to your reports like a child waiting for Xmas” – AD
Now in its 11th day, the brutal regime assault on Homs continues with constant rocket and shell fire.
While Assad’s forces have broken into the Khalidiyeh district and control around 30% of the area, they have not taken the whole neighbourhood and armed resistance is still strong.
Another Deadly Airstrike on Khalidiyeh, Homs
Following their policy first used in Qusair, Government forces are pounding the Opposition held areas with heavy rocket and shell fire and then sending in bulldozers to clear the rubble before they send in ground troops.
With no buildings to protect them, Opposition fighters are forced to retreat and to give ground.
In the lastest assaults over the last 24 hours, the Homs National Hospital was destroyed and this is all that remains,HERE:
Houses were also set on fire in Khalidiyeh and so was the covered market, HERE:
An artillery officer who defected from Assad’s ranks and is now fighting on the side of the Opposition in Homs describes the types of munition that the Syrian Army is using and their devastating effects, (English sub-titles) HERE:
TURNING THINGS ON THEIR HEAD FSA SIEGE OF WESTERN ALEPPO LEADS TO ACCUSATIONS OF CREATING “FAMINE”:
In Aleppo, the Opposition forces continue to make slow but firm headway and have now broken through into the district in the western suburbs known as “New Aleppo”.
In this video footage, fighters are seen entering the some of the upmarket apartments in the area, many of which have clearly been vacated in a hurry (glasses of tea still on the table for example),HERE:
Aleppo – These Used to be Homes
In the Al Nasr district Opposition fighters are targeting Assad army installations with Grad missiles launched from the back of a small truck, HERE: and in this clip the FSA is firing on a Syrian Army post from one of its own tanks HERE:
Predictably, the recently Opposition captured Rashidin district has come under Government rocket fire and further out of the city Kafra Hamra and Azaaz have come under large caliber machine-gun fire.
With the “shoe on the other foot” as they say, things in Aleppo have rather turned round with eastern districts controlled by the Opposition with plenty of supplies but the western regime controlled suburbs, cut off from the rest of Syria, facing food shortages and a siege.
This has led to disputes at the “border crossing” where the two sides of the city meet in the central area of Bustan Al-Qasser. FSA allies posted a banner across the street telling those crossing not to take over certain items and saying, “Food, medicine, oil, babies’ products, milk, vegetables, meat, bread: completely forbidden (from crossing).”
This led to a peaceful protest on Tuesday night which Opposition fighters dispersed with shots into the air and local people describing the decision as “inhumane”. One 50 year old man was reported dead and some others wounded, though some reports suggest they had been shot shortly before by regime sniper fire.
Until now citizens of Aleppo have regularly crossed between the 2 sides to get or trade food and to meet friends and relatives. Now the Government controlled western Aleppo, still containing an estimated 2 million people, is under siege and some bakeries are reported to have shut down because of a lack of flour.
Farmers from the countryside are now also reluctant to enter from the west as fighting escalates and makes it difficult for them to safely transport their produce. The prices of some basic foodstuffs have tripled and others have disappeared from the shelves altogether. Water is also reported to be in short supply.
There is a video of the demonstration, which disperses in a panic as guns are fired, HERE:
Better Days in Syria When Food Was Plentiful
Other Opposition sources supporting the food embargo say residents of western Aleppo should protest against the Government for closing the south-western entrance to the city from the blocked Damascus – Aleppo highway, saying that the “famine” is contrived.
Latest reports this evening, Wednesday, say the rules have been relaxed and food is moving through the border crossing again.
WHILE RUSSIA TRIES TO DUMP “CHEMICAL WEAPONS ” ACCUSATIONS ON FSA, RUMOURS ABOUND OF ANOTHER ISRAELI STRIKE:
In Damascus, Opposition fighters announced the start of another offensive for Ramadan, which started yesterday, called “Southern Storm” in order to try and make headway in the southern suburbs of the capital.
In Deir Ez-Zour Opposition fighters displayed an apparently functioning ZSU-23-4 Chelka-tank and radar anti-aircraft unit on video, HERE:
In Deraa, the Opposition continued their advance, yesterday and today, liberating areas in the regional capital around the Bilal Mosque, HERE:
And in the Bosra Sham district, fighters claimed that they had blown up a building occupied by Hezbollah, HERE:
Remains of Car Bomb in Hezbollah District, Beirut
A car-bomb exploded in the Bir al-Abed district of Beirut yesterday, a well known stronghold of Hezbollah, wounding at least 53 and provoking fears of further sectarian strife in Lebanon, embroiling it in the Syrian conflict further.
In Tartous on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, satellite images have revealed that for the first time the dry-dock at the Russian base there is empty, confirming that the Russians have probably withdrawn.
At the same time, there have been several suggestions that the major blasts early last Friday morning at military facilities near Latakia have been caused by Israeli strikes against Assad’s recently acquired stocks of anti-ship missiles, though there is no real confirmation of this assertion and the Israelis are neither confirming or denying.
The FSA said they did not have the firepower to cause such damage and the Assad regime described the incident as a “technical fault”! You can read more, HERE:
Meanwhile, Russia has supplied the UN with a dossier of “evidence” showing that the Opposition carried out an alleged chemical weapons attack on the Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal in March.
Both the FSA and the USA have asserted that the Opposition did not have the capability of delivering such a warhead and have called for an independent UN investigation, something that so far Assad will not allow because it may look into other incidents involving Government forces too.
At the start of Ramadan yesterday, both the UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon and the newly elected leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Ahmad Assi Jarba , called in vain for a “month-long” cease fire, while the SNC continued to writhe in discontent with the resignation of Ghassan Hitto their Prime Minister designate.
Hitto’s appointment had been opposed by Jarba back in March and in the 4 months since then the PM had failed to form a Government-in-exile.
In Damascus, Assad on Monday undertook some “political housekeeping” of his own, replacing every member of the Ba’ath party Central Committee except himself. The 16 new members are noticeably younger than the “old guard” they replace, who included the Vice-President (VP) Farouk al-Sharaa.
Sharaa who is sometimes seen as a moderating influence, while losing his Ba’ath Party seat, retains his position as VP. The Ba’ath Party has been in power in Syria continuously since March 1963.
Lastly, Alaa Morelli, a 23 year old university student from Latakia who was arrested last June accused of preparing leaflets calling for revolution against Assad, has described how she spent 2 months in prison being psychologically harassed and moved from one place to another.
But conditions for others were a lot worse she says. “I saw a cell packed with some 40 women, all naked, blindfolded and handcuffed. They weren’t allowed to sit, they could only stand.”
Morelli was release after activists started a campaign and the FSA arranged a prisoner exchange. Between 30,000 to 40,000 people are still thought to be held in Assad’s prisons, detained without trial and often subject to torture.
FSA Fighters Pray in Saleddine, Aleppo, July 9th