Syrian tank in Hama 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad reentered the central city of Homs
on Monday, killing at least two people, activists said. The city – a hotbed of
anti-regime activity – has been under a six-day tank bombardment that has killed
more than 100 people over the past week.
Anti-government protesters in
Homs’ Bab Amro neighborhood have been bolstered by army defectors, a steadily
growing number of whom are joining the nearly eight-month- old
Muslim feast day sees Syrian forces kill 4 civilians
Syria 'hopes' to implement Arab deal, violence continues
“They are storming houses now and arresting people, but not
many are left in Bab Amro. The shabbiha [pro- Assad militia] have brought
pick-up trucks and are looting buildings,” an activist told Reuters.
neighboring Lebanon, the country’s small Alawite community, somewhere around
100,000 people, are watching the Syrian crisis with concern.
our neighbor, our brother, our mother,” Abdul Latif Saleh, the mayor of the
Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of Tripoli, told AFP. “We will never forget the
sacrifices the Syrian army made in Lebanon and we are behind the Syrian regime
because they alone confronted the United States and Israel.”
stand by President Bashar Assad to the end and as everyone can see he is
introducing reforms,” one resident said.
“What is really going on in
Syria is not at all what you see on television,” added another resident. “There
is a conspiracy against President Assad... The Muslim Brotherhood and saboteurs
are fighting to bring down Syria.”
But pro-Assad voices are becoming
increasingly scarce in the Middle East. Last week the Arab League announced a
plan it said could help end the bloodshed, but Arabic and Turkish media were
almost unanimously skeptical the initiative – which Damascus said it would
accept – would have any effect on the regime’s conduct.
editor of the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat,
wrote: “Those following the Syrian
situation should ask themselves whether the aim of the proposed Arab initiative
is to save Al-Assad’s regime or to safeguard Syria and protect the people from
Al-Assad’s killing machine?”
“We hope the proposal will be implemented in
earnest, including ending the violence and the killing of protesters, the
release of prisoners and the removal of armed protests from the cities,” Al-
Homayed wrote, according to the global news aggregation and translation service,
The Arab League proposal would have the government
withdraw its forces from Syrian cities, release political prisoners and holds
talks with opposition figures.
Writing in Turkey’s Radikal
Fehim Tastekin noted, “At this critical juncture, Damascus has accepted the Arab
League plan for a way out. From the perspective of the dissidents’ front, the
plan will give Assad time. On the other hand, the plan [if it is not
implemented] will remove any Arab obstacles to a possible foreign intervention.
It would be impossible to intervene without the approval of the Arab
Mehmet Ali Birand, writing in Istanbul’s Posta
Syria’s future in starker terms: “Assad seems to be in control of the situation
as he seems to have managed to unite his supporters. Even Ankara, which until a
short time ago was saying Assad ‘will fall in a few weeks,’ is now talking
about a period of several years.”
Organs of the Syrian state media were
among the only regional news outlets to portray the Arab initiative
Muhammad Al-Khidr, writing in Al-Ba’th
newspaper, said: “The
agreement between Syria and the Arab League ends a painful phase that the
Syrians have been through in the past eight months. More importantly, it spares
the homeland the possibility of international interference that was gradually
emerging... the Syrians realize that Syria is the main winner in this deal.”