Hollywood in Homs and Idlib? | Al Akhbar English
But when it was over, we learned a few things. Contrary to reports during the “siege,” there were only a few thousand civilians in Baba Amr at the time – all others had already evacuated the area. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and its local partner, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), had been administering assistance at nine separate points in Homs for the duration. They would not enter the neighborhoods of Baba Amr and Insha’at because of continuing violence on “both sides.”
The armed opposition fighters holed up in Homs during that month were, therefore, unlikely to be there in a purely “protective” capacity. As American journalist Nir Rosen points out, what happened in Homs on February 3 was a government response to direct and repeated “provocation:”
“Yesterday opposition fighters defeated the regime checkpoint at the Qahira roundabout and they seized a tank or armored personnel carrier. This followed similar successes against the Bab Dreib checkpoint and the Bustan al Diwan checkpoint. In response to this last provocation yesterday the regime started shelling with mortars from the Qalaa on the high ground and the State Security headquarters in Ghota.”
This account contrasts starkly with the oft-repeated notion that armed opposition groups act primarily to protect “peaceful demonstrators” and civilians.
It reminds me of August 2011 news reports of warships shelling the coastal city of Latakia. Three separate sources - two opposition figures from the city and an independent western journalist - later insisted there were no signs of shelling. It was also the first time I learned from Syrians that you can burn rubber tires on rooftops to simulate the after-effects of exploded shells.