Like other Arab nations sick of being ruled by despots, Syria caught the Arab Spring fever when mass demonstrations in the southern city of Deraa broke out on March 15th last year. Unlike Tunisia, Egypt and Libya though, Syria's revolution is ongoing and was largely ignored by the rest of the world's rulers, until, after 11 months, a United Nations Security Council vote was held to help the Arab League plot an end to the violence.
Regardless of the 5,000 civilians dead and as many seriously wounded, Russia and China vetoed the vote, thus stopping any chance of humanitarian intervention and giving a green light to the Syrian regime, lead by Bashar Al-Assad, to liquidate the resistance movement known as the Free Syrian Army. The FSA are a large group of disparate military defectors (they claim numbers of roughly 10-20,000) who refused to shoot their own people and since the summer of 2011 have been fighting back against the regime.On 4th February, the day before the UNSC vote, regime forces began an onslaught against the resistance stronghold of Homs with tanks, mortars and artillery firing indiscriminately into the resistance suburbs of Bab-Amra and Khalidiyeh. Since then over 600 people have been killed, medical supplies are running short and the FSA are running out of ammunition to fight back.We have been in touch with Syrian activists since last year, and when the major offensive against Homs by the regime began these activists started sending us reports on the violence every day. So, in their words, this is what's been going on in a city under a violent and bloody siege:
"To Syrians everywhere, to Arabs and Muslims, to the entire World:"For 11 months the residents of Homs specifically, and Syrians generally, have been facing a brutal regime whose crimes and brutality are unprecedented. The criminality of this regime has gone out of control after it received the green light from its allies of the totalitarian mafia regimes of China and Russia. As a result, the regime has declared a real and comprehensive war against the people, barbarically killing and destroying, without distinguishing between man, elderly, child or woman. The destruction has not spared a hospital, school or house of worship, with complete disregard for all values of human decency.
"Homs is wounded and still bleeding."All neighbourhoods and areas of Homs are a true war zone, where Assad forces used all types of weapons and bombs, along with military aircraft hovering above the city."The humanitarian conditions in Homs are generally miserable with power and communication services being out, there is a shortage in food, and bread is almost completely unavailable. There is also a shortage in medical supplies and medicines, and milk for babies."We pledge to God and our homeland that we will remain steadfast until the last breath is drawn and the last drop of blood is shed, we will continue along our path until we get freedom or die trying."Long live a free Syria, proud of all its sons."
"In Baba Amr for the ninth day in a row, Assad forces continue to bomb the neighbourhood with tanks, mortars and rockets. The number of those killed and injured is still unconfirmed, because of the lack of communications and inability to reach everyone, not to mention the many homes that have been destroyed and the children that have not been spared from the violence."
"For the eighth day in a row, heavy gun fire and explosions roared in the Homs neighbourhoods of Khaldiyeh, Bayada, Joret al-Shayah, Deir Balba and elsewhere. There were many people who got killed and wounded all around Homs."The residents of Khaldiyeh held a funeral for eight fallen heroes from the massacre of Sabeel neighbourhood and four others who were killed yesterday.
"In Rabee al-Arabi neighbourhood, there were several explosions and intermittent gunfire."
The situation is already dire in Homs and things are clearly getting worse; revolutionaries in Syria and foreign media commentators reason that the mass bombardment of the city is to soften up the opposition before a full-scale ground assault. This, however, could play to the strengths of the FSA, and balance out the fight. Whatever happens, the FSA certainly won't go down without a fight:
Although this video was uploaded last year, it shows that the revolutionaries fighting the regime are unlike those in Libya as most are defectors and so aren't novices when it comes to firing an RPG:
As well as having sick RPG skills, the FSA sees hundreds of regime troops defect to join them every week as this video from the capital, Damascus, shows:
Oh, and they stole some armoured personnel carriers:
Over the weekend, Syria saw its first high-profile member of the military regime assassinated in Damascus, showing the reach that the FSA has and putting further pressure on Assad's beleaguered forces. We also saw another "suicide bomb attack" against regime security forces in Aleppo, although many have claimed this was another 'false flag' operation carried out by the regime to shore up their claim that they're fighting armed terrorists and not civilians.Sunday saw another appeal by the Arab League to the UN to send in peacekeepers, and there were even rumours that Saudi Arabia claimed it would send in troops within 72 hours if the regime didn't stop the bloodhshed. A bold move if true, and one that would be welcomed by the civilians of Homs.
Whatever happens next we'll still be getting updates as long as the communication lines stay open, and we'll also try and get some updates from other Syrian cities and provinces. So stay tuned and follow some of these accounts on Twitter:@syriahr @syriarevolution @LeShaque @AlexanderPageSYOr on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BritishSyrianRevolutionAnd for regular video updates subscribe to: http://www.youtube.com/user/UgaritNewsEnglish?feature=g-all-uFollow Henry Langston on Twitter @Henry_Langston