Syrian warplanes batter Homs city
DAMASCUS, Oct 5: Syrian warplanes pounded a rebel-held area of Homs on Friday in the heaviest bombardment of the city for months, monitors said, after the UN condemned the army’s deadly shelling of a Turkish border town.
Calm returned to the border, and although Ankara’s parliament approved further action in Syria after Turkish artillery hit back at Syrian army positions, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there were no plans to go to war.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said the bombardment of Khaldiyeh district was the most intense of Homs in five months, and the first time the regime has deployed fighter jets against the city.
Activist network the Syrian Revolution General Council said a series of large explosions rocked the neighbourhood after the bombing raids.
The Observatory reported five civilians and one rebel killed in the central city and province of Homs, giving an initial death toll of 54 nationwide — including 28 soldiers, 14 civilians and 12 rebel fighters. In the hill resort of Zabadani, a rebel bastion outside Damascus, two civilians were killed in an army bombardment, the watchdog added.
The army also battered rebel strongholds in Aleppo, Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Idlib and Latakia, said the Britain-based Observatory, reporting clashes in each region.
Despite the relentless violence, thousands of people demonstrated across Syria calling for the armi3ng of the rebel Free Syrian Army and condemning the international community’s inaction, the Observatory reported.
The uprising, which began in March 2011 with pro-reform protests that were brutally crushed, has since turned into a civil war pitting mainly rebels against President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite-dominated regime.
Activists say more than 31,000 people have died in the conflict.
The international community has expressed fear the war could spill over into other countries in the region, exacerbated by exchanges of shelling between Syria and Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday.
Turkey had demanded strong UN Security Council action after Syrian fire killed five of its nationals in the border town of Akcakale on Wednesday, including a mother and her three children.
WE WANT WEAPONS, NOT WORDS: After hours of haggling between Turkey’s western allies and longtime Syria backer Russia, the UN body issued its statement, which was toughly worded but a rung down from a formal resolution.
Turkey retaliated to Wednesday’s shelling by striking back at Syrian positions. Several soldiers were reported killed, but Syria’s UN ambassador said two soldiers were only wounded.
The Turkish premier said the authorisation given by parliament for further military action was not a mandate for war but said his nation’s borders and citizens would be defended.
The border region between Turkey and northern Syria was quiet on Friday, a journalist in Akcakale said, although the Turkish military had amassed tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.—AFP