Rastan: Resistance stronghold brought to its knees by bombing, lack of food
April 4, 2013
April 4, 2013
Syrian army forces renewed rocket and artillery bombardment the town of a-Rastan [in Homs province] on Thursday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting no casualties. Here, two short video clips and an interview with a citizen journalist on the ground paint a picture of a dissident city being literally crushed while food supplies have been cut for more than two weeks. Why a-Rastan? Ahmed Kwider takes a closer look.
Sohayb al-Ali, 29, is a citizen journalist with the Rastan Media Center. He is an opponent of the Syrian government.
Q: Where is a-Rastan? Are all its citizens Sunnis?
A: A-Rastan lies 20 kilometers north of Homs, on the main highway. All of its citizens are Sunnis.
Q: What happened today in a-Rastan?
A: They [the army] bombs a-Rastan by artillery and rocket launchers every day. The town also suffers from airstrikes. We heard clashes in the engineering battalion this morning. It’s either a defection inside it or a dispute among its officers.
Q: Why does the government army target a-Rastan every day?
A: The first defected officer of the uprising came from a-Rastan. Most of the soldiers from a-Rastan have defected, too. The majority of the opposition’s commanders in Syria are from a-Rastan. It was also the first liberated town and the regime’s attempts to invade it have all failed. Last time, fighters destroyed two T72 tanks, which are the strongest tank the regime has.
Q: How do you describe the living conditions in a-Rastan?
A: The living conditions are very bad. More than half of the city has been destroyed by the bombardment. We have more than 1,000 martyrs. Bread is expensive. The regime has stopped food supplies to the city for 15 days. We don’t have electricity or milk for children. They destroyed the only bakery by using exploding barrels. Five young men tried to smuggle some flour into the city, but they were targeted by shabiha in the town of Maara. One of them was killed and the rest were injured. The car loaded with flour was burned.
A woman in a-Rastan explains to a local activist that there is no bread and milk available in the markets as the neighborhood children mill around in the street because the schools are closed. The unnamed woman is asked why she is still living in a bombed-out house, to which she answers, “and go where? There’s nowhere to go.” Video courtesy of Sham News Network