BEIRUT – Syrian troops have stormed a restive neighborhood in Homs, kicking in doors and making house-to-house arrests in an area that has spiraled out of government control after nearly a week of deadly assaults, activists said.
The regime is scrambling to clear out Baba Amr, a major center of resistance and reprisal, as Damascus faces potential fallout from the Arab League for defying a peace plan brokered by the 22-nation body with persistent violence. According to activists, more than 110 people have been reported killed in the past week in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city.
The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday. It was not clear what action the league would take if the bloodshed continues, although it could isolate Syria by suspending or freezing its membership. That would be a major symbolic blow to a nation that prides itself on being a powerhouse of Arab nationalism.
Video: Is Arab League a lifeline for Assad?Syrian troops fight defectors in besieged citySyria ignores Arab League peace plan
Despite increasing international pressure, President Bashar Assad still has a firm grip on power and has shown no signs of moving to stop the crackdown on a nearly 8-month-old uprising against his regime. He blames the bloodshed on “armed gangs” and extremists acting out a foreign agenda to destabilize the regime, portraying himself as the lone force who can ward off the radicalism and sectarianism that have bedeviled neighbors in Iraq and Lebanon.
The government reportedly has been facing strong resistance from army defectors who have taken refuge in the Baba Amr and surrounding areas in Homs, which has a population of some 800,000 and is some 100 miles north of the capital, Damascus.
A key opposition group, the Syrian National Council, declared the city a “disaster area” on Monday and appealed for international intervention to protect civilians and for sending Arab and 모바일 야마토 international observers to oversee the situation on the ground.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the “vast majority” of Syrians want a peaceful resolution without foreign interference.
The violence comes despite claims by Syria that it is complying with an Arab League-sponsored plan to end the crackdown.
Under the plan, Syria’s government agreed to pull tanks and armored vehicles out of cities, release political prisoners and allow journalists and rights groups into the country. But the violence has continued unabated, prompting Qatar’s prime minister to call for an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss Damascus’ failure to abide by its commitments.
Activists and Homs residents say government forces have fired live ammunition to break up unarmed protests and used tank guns and other heavy weapons in residential areas in recent days. At least two people were killed in the city and the surrounding province on Monday, pushing the death toll from the past 24 hours to at least 18, they said.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday’s dead included an 8-year-old girl who died in random gunfire from a security checkpoint in the Houla district.
The latest siege also was preventing medical supplies and food from getting into Homs, the SNC said.
“The Syrian regime is imposing a brutal siege on the brave city of Homs, aiming to break the will of its residents who have dared to reject the regime’s authority,” the SNC said in a statement.
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