Syrian tanks resume shelling despite UN rebuke

The New York Times reports: Syrian government forces on Tuesday brushed aside a stern castigation from the top United Nations human rights official about its deadly attacks on civilians, resuming what one activist described as the “brutal shelling” of the city of Homs.

A day after the official, Navi Pillay, the United Nations’s high commissioner for human rights, offered a grim appraisal of the Syrian conflict, activists said the shelling resumed in earnest at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, with rockets and tank shells whistling into parts of the city as often as every two minutes.

It was the heaviest shelling in at least five days, activists said, particularly targeted at the neighborhood of Baba Amr. Videos uploaded on YouTube showed gray and black smoke billowing high overhead as shells crashed into the buildings, while the staccato rattle of machine gun fire sounded constantly.

“The idea of safety doesn’t exist anymore in Baba Amr,” said Omar Shakir, an activist in the neighborhood reached via Skype. “Scary is all that exists.”

The neighborhood was hit by occasional mortar shells overnight, he said, with the heavier shells starting at first light. Although some people managed to flee the heart of the area, it was hard to leave entirely because it was hemmed in by government forces as it has been since the shelling started on Feb. 4.

Food was running low, despite efforts by residents to open a shuttered mini-market to get what they could. “We are under full siege, it is horrible here,” Mr. Shakir said. “I have not tasted bread for the past five days.” He estimated that some 60 percent of the buildings in the neighborhood had been damaged by the shelling.

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