Tens of thousands of Syrians rallied in Homs on Tuesday, emboldened by Arab
peace monitors’ first tour of the hotbed of protests, after the army withdrew
some tanks following battles that killed 34 people in 24 hours.
Lutfi, a physician who hails from Hama – another protest hub and the scene in
1982 of a bloody siege against anti-government rebels – said despite high hopes,
the monitors could be expected to have little substantive effect.
Syrian forces kill at least 23 protesters in Homs
'Military action in Syria is lesser evil'
who now lives in Miami, told The Jerusalem Post
that for embattled Syrian
President Bashar Assad, “cooperation with monitors would mean his
“I do not expect the regime to cooperate with them, and monitors
without force to prevent the massacres may not help,” he continued.
the long term, [the government’s fate] will depend on what the major players in
the region are willing to do to stop the massacres and the mad Assad killing
“This criminal regime only knows two options – either total
subjugation of the Syrian people, or massacres... To allow innocent civilians to
be slaughtered in this manner is really inexcusable. It is reminiscent of the
people who watched Hitler killing the Jews and did nothing about it. Hitler was
killing his own people too.”
Lutfi was one of some 50 experts and Syrian
expatriates who sent an open letter last week to US President Barack Obama
urging Washington to take a stronger stance on confronting the Assad
The bloodshed continued Tuesday despite the monitors’ arrival,
with rights groups estimating 15 people had been killed Tuesday nationwide. More
than 5,000 people are believed to have been killed in the nine-month
Observers want to determine if Assad is keeping his promise to
implement a peace plan to end his uncompromising military crackdown.
In a video posted to YouTube, some protesters shouted “we want international
protection.” Another showed a street encounter in which some Homs residents
argued and pleaded with monitors to venture further into the Baba Amr Quarter,
where clashes have been especially fierce.
Bursts of gunfire erupted
towards the end of a video, after a resident yelled at one monitor to repeat
what he had just told his headquarters.
“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?” the man shouted, grabbing the
monitor by his jacket.
Gunshots crackled nearby as two monitors and two
men wearing orange vests stood amid a crowd of residents, one begging the team
to “come and see – they are slaughtering us, I swear!” The head of the mission
said the first visit was “very good.”
“I am returning to Damascus for
meetings and I will return tomorrow to Homs,” Sudanese General Mustafa Dabi
said. “The team is staying in Homs. Today was very good and all sides were
Activist reports just before the monitors arrived said up to
a dozen tanks were seen leaving Baba Amr, but others were being hidden to
fashion a false impression of relative normality in the city while observers
“My house is on the eastern entrance of Baba Amr. I saw at
least six tanks leave the neighborhood at around 8 in the morning,” one man
said. “I do not know if more remain in the area.”
As the monitors
arrived, tanks were seen leaving the Baba Amr district. Protesters in Homs
appeared to take heart from the observers’ sudden presence, hoping to convince
monitors they must not be hoodwinked by the state by being shown places where
life appears relatively normal.
Al Jazeera showed an estimated 20,000
people in a square in Khalidiya, one of four Homs districts where there has been
significant bloodshed. They were whistling and shouting and waving flags,
playing music over loudspeakers and clapping.
Women were advised to leave
because of the security risk, but a speaker urged men to “come down,
The protesters shouted “We have no one but God!” and “Down
with the regime!” An activist named Tamir said they planned to hold a sit-in in
In Baba Amr on Monday, activist video showed bodies in pieces
and buildings smashed as if by heavy weapons, though the images were impossible
“We do not want to jump to conclusions and say that this
delegation is not objective or did not look for the truth,” said Moulhem Droubi,
a top-ranking Muslim Brotherhood member on the Syrian National Council, the
opposition umbrella group in exile.
“It is not fair yet to
judge. Let’s wait and see what it will do,” he said. “I expect it will be
able to write a report with many facts because the facts are so clear. If they
go to Baba Amr they will see that there is destruction.”
the SANA state-news agency reported that “an armed-terrorist group targeted and
sabotaged a gas pipeline near Rastan” in the Homs province.
has been attacked several times in recent months and returned to operation each
Syria stalled the Arab League for months before accepting the
monitoring mission, the first significant international intervention on the
ground since the start of the popular revolt inspired by Arab pro-democracy
uprisings this year.
The Arab delegation started with 50 monitors who
arrived on Monday. About 100 more are to follow shortly.