Locals and activists said on Monday that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad invaded the residential neighborhood of Baba Amr in Homs, the third largest city in the country. It is the sixth day of a massive military crackdown on the flashpoint city, which brought dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded.
For its part, the newly established opposition body, the Syrian National Council said the city of Homs should be regarded as the a "disaster area."
The locals said army defectors had taken refuge in Bab Amr, which has seen regular rallies in the streets against the Assad regime. Activist Raed Ahmed said over the phone, "They break into houses now and arresting people."
The Syrian authorities prevented independent media coverage of events in Homs and thus it is impossible to ascertain what is happening on the ground. Human rights sources reported that violent clashes took place on Sunday evening in the city between the army and dissident soldiers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting had resulted in "the death and injury of dozens of people from both sides." The Observatory conveyed that "violent clashes included all kinds of heavy and light weapons." Locals heard heavy gunfire and explosions in various districts of Homs.
The repression in Syria continues despite the announcement of he regime it accepted the plan of the Arab League to resolve the crisis and stop the violence. At least 16 civilians were killed on Sunday in the first day of Eid al-Adha. Most of the victims were reported in Homs.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime accused Washington of being involved directly in the violence taking place in Syria. In a letter sent to foreign diplomats, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said his country "took an important step to stop violence", but it was surprised by the statement of the US Department of State's spokeswoman calling upon gunmen not to hand over their weapons to the Syrian government.
Al-Moallem added that Syria sees the US call as a direct involvement in the sedition and violence in Syria. In his letter, al-Moallem said that Syria considers the US call an "encouragement to the armed groups to continue their criminal acts against the Syrian people and state."