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Syrian Security Forces Continue Battering Homs, Red Cross Seeks Cease-fire

Braden Holly |
February 20, 2012 | 10:32 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

A burning building. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons. Photo by FreedomHouse. The creator says the building is in Homs.
A burning building. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons. Photo by FreedomHouse. The creator says the building is in Homs.
Syrian security forces sent reinforcements to Homs as they continued to batter the opposition-held neighborhoods in the city Monday in what is now the 17th consecutive day of shelling.

The shelling of residential neighborhoods has caused many civilians to attempt to flee the city or forced them to find refuge in hastily prepared bomb shelters.

According to NPR:

Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso told The Associated Press he does not think the regime will be able to retake Homs through military force as residents plan to fight until "the last person." He added that Homs is facing "savage shelling that does not differentiate between military or civilians targets."

While security forces at Homs maintain their barrage, the Red Cross is attempting to negotiate a cease-fire in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the beleaguered region.

CNN reported:

The International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to negotiate a cease-fire between Syrian authorities and the opposition so the humanitarian agency can deliver food and medical supplies to the besieged city of Homs and other locations, a spokesman said.

Negotiations are "happening now," Bijan Farnoudi, a spokesman for the ICRC in Geneva, Switzerland said Monday.

Though the Red Cross is attempting to bring supplies in to alleviate civilian suffering, there is no sign that there will be foreign military support for the Syrian opposition in the near future.

The lack of foreign support for Syrian rebels caused one opposition leader, a defector from the Syrian army, to call their battle an “orphan revolution” in an interview with CNN.

NPR reported:

In Kabul, two senior members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee urged international cooperation to help supply the anti-Assad rebels with weapons and other aid. Both Arizona Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, however, stopped short of endorsing direct U.S. military involvement.

"The United States doesn't have to directly ship weapons to the opposition, but there are a whole lot of things that can be done" through groups such as the Arab League, McCain told reporters.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bassad al-Assad continued to characterize the rebels as terrorists and accused them of the killings of a provincial attorney general and a judge, accusations that the opposition-forces deny by claiming that the judge was an opposition supporter, according to CNN.

Though prominent figures like McCain and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have spoken out against arming opposition fighters in Syria for the time being, others have noted that a regime change in Syria might be in the best interests of the U.S.

According to NPR:

"If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn't tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place," [Graham] said.

If the U.S. were to become involved in the conflict, either by arming the opposition or taking more direct action, when would be the time?

NPR reported:

The U.N. last gave a death toll for the conflict in January, saying 5,400 had been killed in 2011 alone. But hundreds more have been killed since, according to activist groups. The group Local Coordination Committees says more than 7,300 have been killed since March of last year. There is no way to independently verify the numbers, however, as Syria bans almost all foreign journalists and human rights organizations.

However, there are many interest groups operating in Syria, said Dempsey in his interview with CNN, and it would be unwise to arm rebels without knowing whether the weapons could end up in the hands of America’s enemies.



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