July 3, 2013
By SYRIA DIRECT
Syrian Air Force raids against Homs continued for the fifth day as squadrons of government troops augmented by Hezbollah, Iranian, and Turkish Alawite volunteers engaged in house to house battles.
Residents remaining in the besieged core neighborhoods of Homs say the city is nearly destroyed with regime forces and their foreign allies unleashing immense firepower against a resistance drawn mainly from the local anti-Assad opposition.
“The damage prior to the siege was limited to certain, scattered buildings in neighborhoods of Homs, but following the period in which the siege tightened, the destruction has hit entire neighborhoods,” said Abdullah Omar, a 35 year-old resident of the besieged Bab Houd district.
The National Hospital, Jorat al-Shaya, Homs. Photo from Homsy Camera
This week Russian-made Yak and Sukhoi aircraft flew intense bombing sorties over the city.
“We hear the explosion of missiles that are launched from these planes before we hear the planes themselves, which prevents us from heading downstairs to the ground floor,” Omar said.
Several residents described government forces deploying canisters filled with phosphates and aluminum powder similar to vacuum bombs, which have the capacity to destroy entire buildings.
“Their aim is the widest destruction possible knocking down all buildings and forcing the rebels out,” said Tarek Badr Khan from the Central Homs Khalidiya Local Coordination Council.
“They are willing to sacrifice their troops in order to progress in Homs.”
Badr Khan agrees with other residents who say the regime will declare victory in Homs once it captures the Khalid Ibn Al Walid mosque, named after one of the prophet Mohammed’s partners in the invasion of Mecca in 629.
“Once they gain the Khalid Bin al-Walid it will be easier to progress in Old Homs and other neighborhoods like al-Qusour and Jorat al-Shaya,” said the 21 year old activist.
Another Homs resident Hassan Abu al-Zain, described the decisive government lockdown of the city as a “scorched earth” policy.
“They are putting pressure by withholding aid and their military movements, attempting to make people turn against the rebels,” said the 28 year old media activist.