“I was woken up at five in the morning by the sound of pounding on my door,” said Omar Ezubeik, a Tripolitan. “It was...
Syrian opposition leaders are calling for urgent international intervention in the besieged city of Homs, located 100...
From the Blog
Looking ahead: What's in store for Syria?
Syrian opposition leaders are calling for urgent international intervention in the besieged city of Homs, located 100 miles north of Damascus, where violent crackdowns on protesters have raged on despite the President’s acceptance of the Arab League’s cease-fire.
The Syrian National Council, the opposition coalition based in Turkey, issued a plea to the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to send “Arab and international observers, instantly, to the city of Homs to oversee the situation on the ground and prevent the regime from continuing to commit brutal massacres.”
The Council also requested official recognition by the international community that Homs is a “humanitarian disaster area”, condemnation of the regime’s attacks against the city’s population, and to start documenting crimes committed by the regime and submitting them to the International Criminal Court in preparation of a trial.
The SNC’s appeal for international protection for civilians and their evacuation comes after a week of intensified fighting between security
forces and anti-government protesters resulted in more than 100 civilian casualties in the city.
Syria’s opposition further claimed in their statement that the government had “launched a large-scale attack” on the neighborhoods in Homs and that “indiscriminate slaughter is being committed by the regime’s militias”, in addition to Assad’s forces “using heavy artillery, rocket launchers, and warplanes to bomb populated residential neighborhoods.”
“For the fifth consecutive day, the Syrian regime imposed a brutal siege on the brave city of Homs, aiming to break the will of its residents, and to brutalize its steadfast people who have dared to reject the regime’s authority and mandate, and insisted on demanding their legitimate rights for freedom and dignity,” it added.
The Syrian government has not commented on their offensive on Homs but has repeatedly said that “terrorists” were operating in the city, killing civilians and citizens wanted them “cleansed.”
Since the street protests began almost eight months ago, the United Nations estimates 3,000 civilians have been killed by forces loyal to Assad. Activists claim the death toll could be as high as 4,200 casualties.
Furthermore, there has yet to be any foreign intervention in Syria aside from the Arab League brokering a cease-fire between Damascus and opposition fighters, which Assad has failed to carry out so far.
During a press conference in Copenhagen on Friday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that the alliance had no plans of military intervention in Syria, because, unlike Libya, NATO has not received a UN mandate nor support from countries in the region to step in.
However, if the United Nations and Arab League honor the SNC’s entreaties, the next step may be to issue a clear mandate for NATO intervention in Syria. Despite President Assad’s threats that any intervention in the country would destabilize the entire region.
On Nov. 2, President Assad agreed to the Arab League’s “road map” aimed to curb violence and quell civil unrest in the country, as activists reported that 21 more civilians were killed by security forces and armed groups loyal to the government that same day.
Following an emergency meeting in Cairo, Qatari Prime Minister
Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani said Damacus affirmed it would “stop all violence from any side in order to protect the Syrian citizens.”
“We are happy to have reached this agreement and we will be even happier when it is implemented immediately,” the Prime Minister said.
The terms of the cease-fire include the complete halt of violence against anti-government protesters, the immediate removal of tanks, armored vehicles and military presence from cities and residential areas, the release of political prisoners, third-party monitoring by League observers and foreign journalists and the start of national dialogue between Assad’s government and opposition set to begin in less than two weeks.
The Syrian president’s acceptance of the proposed plan was met with serious skepticism as critics wondered if it was just another ploy by Assad to buy more time in office.
The Arab League has now called for a second emergency meeting to be held in Cairo next Saturday in response to what it calls Syria’s failure to implement peace plans.