Assad's forces launch offensive in Homs city

Troops loyal to Damascus regime attempt to recapture rebel-held area at center of two year conflict.

By REUTERS
June 29, 2013 19:19
3 minute read.
Rebel fighters pose with their weapons

Syrian Rebels in Homs (R370). (photo credit: Yazen Homsy/Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces launched a major offensive on Saturday against rebels in Homs, a center of the two-year-old uprising, in their latest drive to secure an axis connecting Damascus to the Mediterranean.

Activists said jets and mortars had pounded rebel-held areas of the city that have been under siege by Assad's troops for a year, and soldiers fought battles with rebel fighters in several districts.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"Government forces are trying to storm (Homs) from all fronts," said an activist using the name Abu Mohammad.

There were no immediate details of casualties but video footage uploaded by activists showed heavy explosions and white clouds of smoke rising from what they said were rebel districts. Loud, concentrated rounds of gunfire could also be heard.

One clip showed thick black smoke rising from a mosque identified as the 13th-century Khalid ibn al-Walid mosque, on the edge of the Khalidiyah neighborhood.

Syrian state media said the army was "achieving great progress" in Khalidiyah but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad monitoring group, said there were reports that rebels had destroyed an army tank as troops tried to penetrate the Old City in the center of Homs.

The attack on Homs follows steady military gains by Assad's forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, in villages in Homs province and towns close to the Lebanese border.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


Three weeks ago Hezbollah spearheaded Assad's recapture of the border town of Qusair, a former rebel bridgehead for smuggling in guns and fighters. Last week the rebels lost another border town, Tel Kalakh.

Those gains have consolidated Assad's control over a corridor of territory that runs from the capital Damascus through Homs to the traditional heartland of his minority Alawite sect in the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean.

They have also alarmed international supporters of the rebels, leading the United States to announce that it will step up military support. Saudi Arabia has accelerated deliveries of sophisticated weaponry, Gulf sources say.

DERAA VICTORY

The interventions by Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, a staunch backer of the mainly Sunni rebels, and Shi'ite Hezbollah highlight how the 27-month-old uprising has divided the Middle East along sectarian lines.

Gulf Arab States, Turkey and Egypt all support the rebels while Shi'ite Iran and Hezbollah are actively helping Assad whose Alawite community - an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam - has dominated Syria for more than four decades.

Click for full JPost coverage

Sunni Islamist fighters from countries across the Middle East have also flocked to Syria, fighting for the rebels in a war that has killed more than 100,000 people, driven 1.7 million refugees abroad and displaced another 4 million within Syria's borders.

Hopes of holding a US and Russian-backed peace conference have faded, with rebels reluctant to negotiate while they are on the defensive militarily and tensions between Moscow and Washington exacerbating their deep differences over Syria.

The violence has spilled over frontiers and stirred sectarian violence in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon. Two people were killed in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, one in an explosion and another in sniper fire between the Alawite district of Jebel Mohsen and adjacent Sunni areas.

Despite losing ground around Damascus and Homs, rebels registered a symbolic victory on Friday when they overran a major military checkpoint in Deraa, the southern city where the uprising first erupted.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory, said the fall of the army post was strategically significant and could change the balance of power in Deraa, where rebels control most of the old city.

The province of Deraa, on the border with Jordan, has been a conduit for arms supplies to the rebels.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

turkey turkish officer
October 18, 2018
Turkey's top oil refiner appeals to U.S for waiver from Iran sanctions

By REUTERS