July 1, 2013
By Ahmed Kwider and Abulrahman al-Masri
Government forces utilized their control over the skies to hit central Homs Monday as the armed opposition held ground in the blockaded central neighborhoods of Syria’s third largest city.
Video uploaded to the Internet showed extensive bomb damage to the northeastern district of Khalidiya after three days of airstrikes.
“The civilians’ homes are destroyed. All the people left their homes and it now looks like a ghost town,” said citizen journalist Abdel Hamid Sabek, who reported MIG and Sukhoi jets launching multiple raids on the city center.
Khalidiya is one of a score of central Homs neighborhoods including Jouret Alshiah and Bab Hod bearing the brunt of the government’s focus on the city after taking the town of Qusair.
“The army couldn’t move a step forward, but is still shelling Jouret Alshiah with mortars,” said Feres, a 32-year-old former football coach now working with the opposition in Homs.
“As for Bab Hod the shelling hasn’t stopped at all.”
State run news agency SANA claimed “progress in Khalidiya “ and said the government’s army gained control of a number of buildings in Bab Hod neighborhood.
“The regime started bombardment from the early morning at about 5 am,” said Tarek Bader Khan, manager of the Local Coordination Council in Khalidiya.
“Until this moment there is no progress for Hezbollah or the regime on the ground,” added the 21-year-old Sunni activist.
Bader Khan said the government has shown increased willingness to accept troop losses and intensified ruthlessness in attacking residential neighborhoods.
“The regime is sacrificing too many soldiers to achieve victory. We have counted the killed people from Hezbollah, National Defense, and regime forces in the last two days and it was around fifty five,” said Bader Khan.
The activist’s figures align with those of the London- based Syrian Human Rights Observatory that reported government losses in Khaldiya alone reached twenty-four over the weekend.