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On the ground in Homs: 'The killing is continuous'

Supporters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) block a street during a protest in Reef Damascus, north of Damascus, early February 4, 2012, against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces attacking the town of Homs. More than 200 people were killed in shelling by Syrian forces in the city of Homs, activists said on Saturday, as the U.N. Security Council prepared to vote on a draft resolution backing an Arab call for Assad to give up power.

REUTERS

Syrian government forces continued its assault on the central city of Homs on Monday, striking a makeshift medical clinic and residential areas. The government has denied shelling the city, blaming "armed terrorist groups" for the violence.

Interviews with residents inside the city paint an entirely different picture. The Globe reached Sami Ibrahim, an activist with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who is based in Homs. Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Q: Can you describe in detail the situation in Homs today?

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A: At three o'clock in the morning people woke up to hear loud gunfire coming from dozens of Syrian army tanks shooting in the Baba Amr area. The shooting seems random, on houses, people, buildings. No one can deny this situation because we recorded it. We have sent the footage to more than ten channels, Arabic and English. The whole world can watch with its own eyes. We are unable to do anything.

Q: There are various reports about the death toll today. What is your count?

A: Today we lost seventy-two Syrians. Fifty three were from Homs. Seven children and four women are among those.

Q: What impact has the failure of the United Nations Security Council to censure Syria had on the situation on the ground?

A: The Assad regime has taken the green light from Russia and from China. This is reflected on the ground. The killing is continuous. Assad now feels his back is protected and nobody can interfere with him. So he doesn't care now. He took the decision to fire at the people and kill as much as he can, so he can stop this revolution. The people in Homs have been protesting. For the last two days people on the streets have set the flags of Russia and China on fire. People in Homs are angry at the whole world and this will affect the shape of our revolution.

Q: How is the escalation of violence affecting daily life in the city?

A: Can you imagine how many people Homs lost since the beginning? Homs lost two thousand seven hundred people from Homs families. This is a huge amount. There are about seventy five roadblocks in this city. At each of these roadblocks there are security forces full of weapons. If they hear at a certain area there are demonstrations or protesters, they start shooting up the area. People die every day around these barriers. We feel that we are under occupation. The electricity, water and food has been cut. It makes our lives hell. If people are found carrying medicine, they are accused of supporting al-Qaeda. If this was an earthquake or a flood, you would see hundreds of international organizations on the ground, helping the people. But here in Homs, nobody has come to help us. This situation is very rare. It is very terrible, for this world to just stand by.

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About the Author

Sonia Verma writes about foreign affairs for The Globe and Mail. Based in Toronto, she has recently covered economic change in Latin America, revolution in Egypt, and elections in Haiti. Before joining The Globe in 2009, she was based in the Middle East, reporting from across the region for The Times of London and New York Newsday. More

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