After indiscriminately shelling several neighborhoods in Homs, Syrian security forces backed by tanks are seeking to overrun several rebel positions in heavily populated areas of the city.
Syrian troops backed by tanks launched a ground offensive on Wednesday to try to retake the opposition stronghold of Bab Amr in the central city of Homs, but reportedly were being held back by stiff resistance from rebels fighting with the Free Syrian Army, activists said.
An activist living on the outskirts of the Bab Amr neighborhood who identified himself as Abu Emad, said fierce clashes erupted Wednesday morning after the Syrian army sought to push its way into the area near a sports stadium.
He said the sound of the fighting could clearly be heard across the city, but with all communications to the neighborhood cut off, it was impossible to establish exactly what was happening there.
The human rights advocacy group Avaaz quoted a person in Homs as saying the army had entered one part of the Bab Amr neighborhood. Avaaz said it was still trying to verify reports that the Free Syrian Army was battling the troops' advance.
The Associated Press quoted an unnamed Syrian official as pledging that the city would be "cleaned" within hours.
The apparent ground assault came 26 days after troops began shelling the neighborhood that has become a symbol of resistance to the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds are believed to have died in the subsequent daily bombardments of the residential area, which had fallen under the control of Free Syrian Army fighters.
How very antiseptic of him to say that the city would be "cleaned." It is typical of the crimes being committed by the Assad regime that they would try to downplay what "cleaned" actually means.
If this is a foretaste of how Assad will deal with other hotspots like Hama, the 6,000 dead so far could be an asterisk by the time the Syrian regime is done with their "cleaning."