February 04, 2012

They heard at about 03:00 that there had been a large bombardment of areas of Homs that are opposed to the regime.

The scraps of information we are getting from inside Homs suggest that mortars and tank rounds were used in a pretty relentless bombardment of those areas of the city that have slipped from the regime's grasp, principally the areas of Khalidya and Baba Amr.
The men started a "blood drive" in the villages around and they have been trying to get this blood into Homs. So far they have not been successful - they say that Homs is effectively cut off as the tanks and positions around it are shooting at anything that moves.
The Syrian government denies that any attack at all has taken place, but we are hearing from inside Homs that funerals have already begun.
Across Syria a picture is emerging of government forces holding the centre of big towns and the main roads, and the Free Syrian Army becoming increasingly active and almost controlling parts of cities like Homs and areas of the countryside.
These men have only very light weapons - machine-guns and rocket propelled grenades - and they have no answer when government forces decide to use heavy weapons, as they appear to have done overnight.
Bigger attacks
Why did this take place on the day the UN Security Council is voting on a motion critic of Syria?
It could be because the Free Syrian Army have been so successful that areas of Homs have slipped from the government's grasp. I think the government army commanders on the ground simply thought they could not wait any longer.
The Free Syrian Army have told me this morning that they are going to conduct what they call a "general offensive" in reply to what has happened in Homs.
I think we are going to see an escalation in the violence.
We are seeing bigger and bigger attacks by the Free Syrian Army.
On Friday we followed an attack on an army base outside Homs. The fighters said they had over 100 men - I counted at least 60. They did not manage to take that base but they attacked over a number of hours and it was a big battle.
I think the focus in Syria now is moving away from street protests - though they still continue - and into an escalating guerrilla campaign.
Syria map

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