July 4, 2013
By Ahmed Kwider and Abulrahman al-Masri
Syrian state media denied opposition reports that regime forces targeted the landmark Khalid ibn Walid Mosque as interviews with activists expressed dismay with the Free Syrian Army’s deficient support for rebels held up in what little remains of the country’s third largest city.
The Homs Local Coordination Committee issued a statement describing “shelling with surface-to-surface missiles targeting the Khalid ibn Walid Mosque and various neighborhoods in the city.”
The statement added that “enormous explosions shook the Khalidiya neighborhood and planes soared above the besieged neighborhoods, carrying out multiple air strikes on citizens’ homes.”
Homs Provincial Governor Ahmed Munir Muhammad told SANA that he “denied reports broadcast on the channels of sedition and terrorism about the Syrian Arab Army targeting the Khalid ibn Walid Mosque.”
With the historic market destroyed and supplies of food depleted, the estimated eight hundred families remaining residents are increasingly fearful and angry/.
“Only death can sneak into this city after one year of the blockade,” said Babers al-Talwai, a 23-year-old media activist.
“The supplies of abandoned houses became the only food source for the people. Homs kids are cutting and eating the cannabis plants now.”
Cut off from the FSA’s more effective units closer to the Turkish and Jordanian borders, supporters of the armed opposition in Homs expressed resentment over their abandonment.
“Honestly there are no Free Army elements in the besieged neighborhoods of Homs except for a few. Instead, the rebel presence consists of locals,” said Firas, 32, who supports the revolution and a civil state.
“The military council in Homs has not and will not provide anything at all, and there have actually been thefts in Homs on the part of the military council,” said the former sports coach who praised the coordination between the independent Farouk Brigades and Nusra Front fighters in the city.
Yaman Abu Fouad, who describes himself as a moderate Islamist said that fighters in Homs are largely local people cooperating regardless of faction and without any help from the Free Army’s leadership.
“When we are joined by someone from another sect or religion we do not deny his right to defend his country as a Syrian or as a besieged son of Homs, “said Abu Fouad.
“The evidence for what I say is that there are defected recruits, one of whom, from the Ismaeli sect, is standing behind a bullet-ridden wall alongside his Syrian brothers.”
“As for Jabhat Al-Nusra, they don’t number more than a few dozen; best estimates have their number between 50-70. They are a fighting faction on the ground and they have not demonstrated any intention to work against us up until now,” said the former mathematics teacher.
Abu Zain al-Abidine, a jihadist “emir” or prince of the Allahu Akbar fighters in Homs is dismissive of both the FSA and the Farouk brigades and predicted the imminent fall of the city.
“There are a thousand questions in terms of the brigades included under the name of the Free Army,” said al-Abidine.
With additional reporting by Nuha Shabaan