SELLING SCRAPS: Children walk down a dirt road of Rastan in Homs province on Monday with pieces of scrap metal they intend to sell for a few dollars. “We sell metal and nylon and give the money to mom,” one of the children tells the activist filming. Do you want to go to school, he asks them. “The air force and tanks bombed our school,” the child replies.
Rastan, population 100,000, is situated about 20 kilometers north of Homs city and roughly the same difference south of the city of Hama. One of the first defections from the regime was by First Lt. Abid al-Razak Tlass, originally from Rastan. The city is also known to have the largest rate of defections in military men and officers.
The head of the Rastan Media Office, Suhaib al-Ali, says that the city is strategic because “it lies on the highway that links Turkey, Aleppo, and Damascus.” The Free Syrian Army controls Rastan, thereby cutting the highway and blocking the regime from moving reinforcements, al-Ali says. The “humanitarian situation is very bad; water, electricity, and flour have been cut for more than one year.”