A reporter spends several days in the opposition stronghold of Bab Amr with the Free Syrian Army.
|An army defector told Al Jazeera that Grad rockets were being used to shell residential neighbourhoods [YouTube]|
The Syrian military is reportedly moving deeper into residential areas in the city of Homs as part of efforts to quell anti-government protests.
Activists say the army is firing rockets and mortar rounds to subdue opposition districts on Wednesday, as tanks entered the Inshaat neighbourhood and moved closer to Bab Amr.
Several residents described to Al Jazeera the deteriorating situation in the besieged city.
Hadi al-Abdallah – Activist in Homs
“Homs woke up this morning to shelling, blood and a massacre,” al-Abdallah said.
He said that deaths occurred in the neighbourhoods of Bab Amr, Al Khaldiyeh, Wadi al-Arab, Karm el Zaitoun, Waar and al-Sabeel.
“Some areas are completely besieged. There is no internet, no landlines or mobile lines. We hear sounds of shelling but we have no idea what is going on there.”
He said in al-Sabeel, three families were knifed to death. Eight of those reportedly killed were from the al-Tirkawi family, six from the al-Mheeni family and five from the al-Zamel family.
Omar al-Homsi, a defecting soldier
Homsi, who deserted the Syrian army over the continuing security crackdown, said Grad rockets were being used to shell residential neighbourhoods in Homs.
“Grad rockets are usually only used in wars. They are now being used against the Syrian people,” he said.
“These kinds of rockets do not burn buildings when they target them. They rather fragment them into little pieces.”
He said the defecting soldiers cannot retaliate because they neither have the capabilities to confront the rockets nor could they locate their launching points.
“The army is targeting us from very far. We cannot even see the source of the attacks.”
Omar Shakir, resident of Bab Amr
Shakir spoke to Al Jazeera with the sound of artillery fire in the background.
“There is non-stop shelling. Until now there are more than 50 people dead and 80 injuries,” he said.
“They are shelling form very far. You cannot see them with your own eyes. You have to see them with a camera [that has] a good zoom.”
He said the city is isolated from the rest of Syria and the rest of the world.
“We are feeling that we are completely alone. Nobody cares about us. The UN gave Bashar al Assad [permit] to kill us with rockets, to shell us with tanks,” he said.
“People here are starting to think ‘we cannot let Bashar al Assad kill us and arrest us’. We will defend ourselves by every possible way.
“We will carry knifes from the kitchen and defend ourselves. That is our right.”