A mother and brother of a victim of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s death squads were gunned down as they tried to bury the victim until security forces fired at crowds. Five others were killed and more than 40 were wounded.
The mourners fled in a panic, and soldiers and police continued to shoot at anyone in the street in Homs, a center of opposition against the Assad regime.
The death toll the past four days has climbed to 50, and even pro-government media are beginning to encourage diplomatic means to end what one newspaper called a “nightmare.” Human rights groups estimate that more than 1,600 people have been mowed down since the beginning of the four-month uprising, but the numbers probably are far higher. In addition, more than 20,000 have been arrested, half of them still in custody and hundreds of them tortured.
"The authorities' plan failed [in Homs] just as it failed in Banias last April" when secret police and soldiers fired at a mosque, London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Refugees from Syria continue to try to cross borders despite deployment of additional Syrian soldiers to prevent them from leaving the country. Dozens of Syrians managed to cross into northern Lebanon on Tuesday.
One of the reasons that Assad has been able to stubbornly hold on to power is the fear of the United States and other countries of what might happen if he is toppled or steps down. President Barack Obama backed the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but the substitute provisional military regime so far has proven itself to be anti-Israel, anti-America and has been accused by Egyptians of continuing the same corruption and lack of reforms that tainted Mubarak.
Complicating the situation in Syria is the mix of secular and different religious factions of Christians, Sunni Muslims and Alawites, the minority community of two million people, including Assad.
Alawites comprise only 10 percent of the Syrian population but hold key positions in the government.