‘Syria forces poised for assault on protest hub’

Syria`s opposition warned on Friday that thousands of regime forces and loyalist militias have encircled the protest hub of Homs.

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2011, 15:51 PM IST

Nicosia: Syria`s opposition warned on Friday that
thousands of regime forces and loyalist militias have
encircled the protest hub of Homs, poised to launch what may
be a final bloody assault to crush dissent.

The Syrian National Council said in a statement sent to
news agency in Nicosia that President Bashar al-Assad`s regime was
using the pretext of what it called a "terrorist" attack on an
oil pipeline to overrun the central protest hub.

"The regime (is) paving the way to commit a massacre in
order to extinguish the revolution in Homs," said the SNC, the
principle umbrella organisation drawing together opponents of
Assad`s regime.

Homs, an important junction city of 1.6 million residents
mainly divided along confessional lines, is a tinderbox of
sectarian tensions that the SNC said the regime was trying to
exploit.

"The regime has tried hard to ignite the sectarian
conflict using many dirty methods, which have included bombing
and burning mosques, torturing and killing young men, and
kidnapping women and children," said the opposition group.

"The regime also took a significant step... in burning oil
pipelines in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr to blame what the
regime calls `armed gangs; in an attempt to crush the peaceful
uprising on the pretext of a war on terrorism."

Witnesses on the ground in the city have reported a
buildup of troops and pro-regime "Shabiha" militiamen backed
by armoured vehicles who have set up more than 60 checkpoints,
said the SNC.

"These are all signs of a security crackdown operation
that may reach the level of a total invasion of the city," it
said in the statement.

PTI