October 27, 2013
By Mohammad Rabie and Jacob Wirtschafter
AMMAN: Pro-government shabiha forces shelled residential areas in the Al-Waar district of Homs Sunday as government troops continued the siege of the city’s historic core and skirmished with the FSA and Islamist battalions in the southeast of the central Syrian province.
Opposition affiliated Sham News reported shabiha shelling from several towers in the district, killing two civilians and injuring many others.
The besieged al Waar neighborhood. Photo courtesy of al Waar News Network
Al Waar lays 7km to the east of the center of Old Homs and houses many civilians displaced by the destruction of the historic urban core.
This week government forces and their Iranian and Hezbollah allies began to blockade al Waar using the same methods as have been enforced against the Old City.
“The regime closed it several days ago, and prevented anyone and anything from going in or out,” said Abu-Alfida, 21, an undergraduate economics student prior the revolution.
“Now, they’ve closed the only access point to this neighborhood, a checkpoint called al-Mazra’a located near al-Mazra’a, a Shiite pro-regime village.” Abu-Alafia added.
“Kneel or starve is sign the regime placed at the checkpoint.”
Al-Mazraa houses the Military College in Homs and has served as a base for Iranian troops and advisors according to Osama Abu-Zaed, a journalist from Homs.
Meanwhile Old Homs, which has been surrounded for over five hundred days, has defied expectations and has yet to fall completely to government forces.
“The regime tries to storm the Old City but the rebels are always on defense, so they are in a stronger position, that’s why the regime keeps shelling every day,” said Abu-Zaed who left the city several months ago using one of several tunnels dug by rebels to defy the blockade.
“The most important thing is that all of Old Homs's crossroads are filled with mines. These neighborhoods are ready for any attempt of invasion,” said Abu Ja’ffar al-Mugarbil a 33 year-old media activist.
Al Mugarbil says the opposition has held on in Homs province with “a mixture of countryside and city people” and effective collaboration in the field between Jabhat a-Nusra, Muslim Brotherhood, and the FSA affiliated al-Farouq battalions.
“These battalions have plans and military leaders and officers. Some of them are from Homs and they know the places very well. They bring weapons through the tunnel and then they start to plan what to do with it. They share their plans and the present the best plan. The rebels of outer Homs are providing assistance to the rebels of blockaded Homs,” al-Mugarbil explained.
Conflicting reports have come from the provincial towns of Sadad and Maheen where both sides acknowledge casualties in a battle to control access to the Homs-Damascus Highway.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports more than a hundred government troops were killed in clashes near the two towns 60km south of Homs. The pro- Assad Al Mayadin channel in Beirut said government troops held largely Christian Sadad while opposition outlets claimed rebels held the town.