Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Assad Accelerating Assault on Homs; Two Journalists Among Those Killed

The situation in Homs continues deteriorating as Bashar al-Assad's forces continuing their assault against the city. Two journalists were among those killed, including American war correspondent Marie Colvin, who works for the British Sunday Times. A Syrian blogger was also among those killed.

Assad is showing himself more than capable of engaging in mass murder and war crimes with his ongoing actions. He's taking a page right out of his father's Hama rules handbook on how to deal with threats to the regime - bomb them into submission.
Hundreds of people have been killed in daily bombardments of Homs by Assad's besieging forces using artillery, rockets and Soviet-built T-72 tanks, stoking fears of Assad subjecting the city to the same devastation as his late father inflicted on the rebellious town of Hama 30 years ago, killing at least 10,000.

With diplomacy to halt Syria's bloodshed at a standstill and Assad's forces intensifying offensives to wipe out rebels, the United States appeared to open the door to eventually arming the Syrian opposition, saying that if a political solution to the crisis was impossible it might have to consider other options.

The Homs district of Baba Amro where the 19 deaths were reported has been under bombardment since February 3, taking the conflict to a new dimension which is bound to dominate "Friends of Syria" talks in Tunis on Friday where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets officials from 70 countries and groups.

In a further sign of worsening carnage in Syria, activists said that troops and militia loyal to Assad captured and shot dead 27 young men on Tuesday in northern villages in the thick of an 11-month-old uprising against his autocratic rule.

Russia, one of Assad's few remaining allies and seen as retaining some leverage over him, said on Wednesday it was seeking safe passage of aid convoys to Syrian civilians trapped in the spreading violence.
Even as Assad's troops murder people opposed to the regime, he's claiming that the constitutional referendum will somehow limit his power. Opposition leaders are calling for a boycott of the referendum, noting that they had nothing to do with the process that led to the proposed constitution and that Assad is using the referendum as a cover to continue his crackdown.

At the same time, in light of the ongoing crackdown and increased hardships on civilians across the country, the Russians are floating a proposal for a nationwide 2-hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to flow to civilians caught in the crossfire. Don't expect much to come from that proposal though it is a recognition that Assad's crackdown against rebel forces is taking an increasing toll on civilians. Russia, China and Iran reaffirmed backing Assad's regime, so they're doing what they can to take the pressure off Assad even as the butcher's bill increases.

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