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Syria: Residents Report Homs is Under Siege

Residents of the Syrian city of Homs say the city is under siege and being shelled by army tanks.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/25/2011, 5:16 AM

Homs Protest 17.7.11
Homs Protest 17.7.11
Screen Capture

Residents in the Syrian city of Homs called for western intervention on Saturday after activists said the area has come under renewed attack from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Al Jazeera cited residents who told the network on Saturday that army tanks were shelling the city. Activists in the Bab Amr district said they had been under siege for the last 48 hours.

One resident told the network, “There is heavy bombardments going on since early morning and there is non-stop firing so far. So many people are been killed, we have counted so far 16 people have been killed and we’ve got so many injured, so many houses have been destroyed and we don't know what to do. Everywhere from every side we can see tanks very clearly and different types of heavy machine guns have been used since morning.”

Activists told Al Jazeera that the bodies of four civilians who had been arrested were found on Saturday with signs of torture. They added at least 28 people were killed across the country on Saturday.

The reports on the renewal of the siege on Homs came as Arab League monitors met Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, on Saturday to discuss the arrival of a team to oversee a deal aimed at ending nine months of bloodshed.

On Thursday, the Arab League sent an advance team to Syria to prepare for the arrival of observers who will monitor Assad’s compliance regime with the League’s demand to end clashes with opposition forces.

The 10-member team, headed by top League official Samir Seif al-Yazal, includes financial, administrative and legal experts and is tasked with ensuring the monitors will have open access and be able to move freely about the country.

The meetings between the monitors and Muallem took place a day after two suicide car bombs killed 44 people in Damascus on Friday.

Syrian officials have blamed al-Qaeda terrorists for the bombings, saying al-Qaeda is linked to dissident Syrian Forces leaders who support the Turkish-backed insurgency against Assad’s government.

The Lebanon-based Hizbullah terror group, however, blamed the United States for the twin car bombings, saying Washington was the "mother of terrorism."

“These bombings which resulted in the death and injury of dozens of people, mostly women and children, are the specialty of the United States, the mother of terrorism,” Hizbullah said in a statement.

The terror group accused the U.S. of “specializing in targeting, killing and terrorizing the innocent in order to push them into bowing to the U.S. policy that is seeking to achieve the Zionist interest which the Americans put above any other consideration.”