Syrian crowd argues, pleads as Arab monitors visit

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - 00:38

Beirut: Angry Syrians crowded around Arab League monitors visiting their flashpoint city of Homs on Tuesday, shouting "We want international protection" as the team passed through bloodied and rubble-strewn streets.

Activists have posted several video clips on YouTube of what appears to chronicle Arab League observers checking to see if Syria is implementing a peace plan calling on the government to withdraw troops from protest centres and end bloodshed.

Syria has been rocked by nine months of unrest as security forces struggle to crush protests seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

In one video, monitors pass through a narrow alley of crumbling cement buildings that appear to have been hit with mortar rounds or shelling by the tanks that have rolled through the city in past days. Enraged residents point out to the head of the delegation a large pool of blood and shattered buildings.

"Where is the world?" one man shouts at them.

What began as a peaceful protest movement has become increasingly violent as an armed insurgency has emerged.

The violence has turned parts of Homs, particularly the Baba Amr area which delegates were visiting, into a war-zone that threatens a slide into civil war.

"Long live the Free Syrian Army, only the Free Syrian Army can protect civilians," a group of residents shouted as the monitors pass by them in a second video clip. The Free Syrian Army is a loose umbrella group to which army deserters and armed rebels have pledged loyalty.

Shouting residents appeared frantic as they rushed toward the monitors. As the delegates pushed through one crowd, a veiled woman rushed up to the head of the mission and screamed "We want the detainees".

Syrian security forces have arrested thousands of people in the crackdown. They have released at least 1,000 but activists say tens of thousands remain in detentions around the country.

In a third video, angry residents plead with monitors to come further inside their neighbourhood in Baba Amr as gunfire erupts in the background.

"You were telling the head of the mission that you cannot cross to the second street because of the gunfire. Why don`t you say it (to us)?" one man shouted, grabbing a monitor by his jacket. The monitor said only the head of the team could make a public statement.

Other residents surrounding the team begged the monitors to enter their neighbourhoods.

"Come and see, they are slaughtering us I swear," a man yelled.

Syria says it is fighting foreign-backed terrorists who have killed more than 2,000 of its security forces.

More than 5,000 civilians and army deserters have been killed by Syrian forces, according to the United Nations.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 10:59

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