Amnesty International today urged Russia and other countries with influence over Syria to make an urgent appeal to try to stop the military assault on Homs.
The organization said more than 200 people have been killed since Friday from shelling and sniper fire.
While Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was meeting Tuesday with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syrian security forces’ unrelenting bombardment of Homs continued and has since intensified. Amnesty International called on Russia to make it clear to the Syrian government, both publicly and in private, that the military assault on Homs must end immediately.
The organization also called on the Arab League to continue its diplomatic efforts on Syria.
“The situation in Homs is critical, and is turning into a major humanitarian crisis. Russia has blocked international efforts to stop the massive human rights violations in Syria, stating that they have a better plan for resolving the crisis,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.
“Russia, and other countries with influence over Syria, must use whatever means they have to restrain the Syrian military in Homs and ensure it stops using heavy weaponry in residential areas.”
“The Syrian government seems to think that Saturday’s Security Council veto has given it the green light to crush resistance in Homs by any means – Russia needs to make clear, with a loud voice, that this is not the case.”
Since Friday residential areas in Homs – including al-Khaldieh, Bab ‘Amr, Bab al-Seba’ and al-Insha’aat – have been subjected to shelling by government forces and there have been heavy exchanges of fire with anti-government fighters in these areas.
The Syrian army has deployed tanks in certain areas. Armed groups in the city are reported to be using Kalashnikovs and RPGs in response.
Amnesty International has received the names of 246 people reported to have been killed in Homs, including at least 17 children. While some of those killed were armed men fighting against the government forces, the majority were reported to have been unarmed.
Hundreds more are reported to have been injured. Most people are being treated in makeshift field hospitals or at their homes.