Warplanes Hit Homs, Rebels Down Helicopter as Thousands Demonstrate across Syria

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Warplanes pounded rebel-held areas of Homs in the Syrian city's heaviest onslaught for months on Friday, monitors said, as Turkey reportedly returned cross-border shellfire for the second time this week.

The clashes came as the U.N. condemned the Syrian army's deadly shelling of a Turkish border town on Wednesday, and "terrorist" car bombs that killed almost 50 people in the war-torn country's second city Aleppo on the same day.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombardment of Khaldiyeh district was the most intense of Homs in five months, and the first time the regime has deployed fighter jets against the city.

Rebels hit back by downing a regime helicopter gunship in Damascus province and seizing an army checkpoint outside the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, killing at least 12 soldiers, said the Observatory.

"Allahu akbar! (God is greatest). The helicopter is falling!" a youth yelled as an aircraft was seen tumbling from the sky in flames on an amateur video that activists posted on the Internet.

The Observatory reported eight civilians and one rebel killed in Homs city and province, updating its Friday death toll to 95 nationwide -- 37 soldiers, 35 civilians and 23 rebel fighters.

It said six civilians and 11 rebels were killed in Aleppo, where an Agence France Presse correspondent reported intense street battles in Arkoub district.

The insurgents have occupied health facilities and schools as makeshift bases, the journalist said, adding they move around the area through holes in the walls of buildings.

There also were signs of strain from troops in the city, with one officer admitting "the battle for Arkoub is as tough as the struggle for Hanano" last month, when rebels took control of a fortress-like compound for three days.

Conscripts fighting for the regular army spoke in different accents from across the country.

Flashing a V-for-victory sign, one young soldier said he missed his home in Homs province. "My people in Homs haven't seen me in three months," he lamented.

Despite the relentless violence, thousands of people demonstrated across Syria calling for the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army and condemning the world's inaction, the Observatory reported.

The uprising, which began in March 2011 with pro-reform protests that were brutally crushed, has since turned into a civil war pitting mainly Sunni rebels against President Bashar Assad's minority Alawite-dominated regime.

Activists say more than 31,000 people have died in the conflict.

The world community has expressed fear the war could spill over into other countries in the region, exacerbated by exchanges of shelling between Syria and Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday.

Turkey had demanded strong U.N. action after Syrian fire killed five people in the border town of Akcakale on Wednesday, including a mother and her three children.

And on Friday, a Syrian shell hit the Turkish town of Altinozu in Hatay province, triggering an immediate response fire from Turkish forces at around 1630 GMT, said NTV news channel.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

The U.N. Security Council issued a toughly worded statement in response to Syria's initial shelling, although it was a rung down from a formal resolution.

"The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms the shelling by the Syrian armed forces," it said.

Saying the shelling "highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbors and on regional peace," the statement "demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated."

A statement agreed on Friday by the 15-nation council condemned the Aleppo bomb attacks "in the strongest terms" and expressed condolences to families of the victims "of these heinous acts."

On Friday, Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria it would pay a big price for any more attacks and reiterated Turkey does not want war but is ready to act if threatened.

"I am calling once more on the Assad regime and its supporters: Don't dare to test Turkey's patience," he told a crowd in Istanbul.

Prior to the latest shellfire, the border region between Turkey and Syria had been quiet on Friday, an AFP journalist in Akcakale said, although the Turkish military had amassed tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.

Inside Syria, protesters took to the streets of several cities and towns after being urged to turn out under the rallying cry: "We want weapons, not words, to protect our children from the killing".

"The people demand the arming of the FSA (Free Syrian Army)!" hundreds of men chanted outside a white mosque in Halfaya, Hama province, while holding the flag of the revolt.

Meanwhile, a rebel commander warned his fighters would execute dozens of Iranians they kidnapped inside Syria in August unless the army withdraws from the embattled Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus province.

"We gave the regime 48 hours starting yesterday to withdraw completely from the Eastern Ghouta area," Abul Wafa told AFP via the Internet. "We also have other secret, military demands. If the regime does not fulfill them we will start finishing off the hostages."

Comments 11
Missing damascus79 05 October 2012, 17:19

No what sounds like broken records are these fake pan arabist regimes and their crony slaves who believe ever word that they say. What's a new record however is the voice of the free people of the middle east. Label it Salafi or whatever you want, we will never relent no matter what so take my advice and get used to it. The Arab regimes and all their apologists are going to be left in the trash cans of history. Salam.

Thumb lebnanfirst 05 October 2012, 19:26

Come back and repeat that tune AFTER the Saudi people rise up against their government. I mean the Saudi masses not just the Shiites in the East of the country. Yes, Saudi Arabia is no democracy but one does not see them murdering their populace like Assad is doing to the Syrians.

It is Ok to have a different opinion but it is not Ok to justify your opinion by digging up ways to point the blame someplace else. Just because Saudi is not a democracy does not in any way imply that Syria should also stay as a dictatorship.

Thumb lebnanfirst 05 October 2012, 20:15

More often than not in life he ideal is not attainable and one must compare situations/circumstances and make compromises for the sake of one's well being. In the case of Lebanon (my main concern) and Syria (secondary concern) the choices come down to either siding with a dictator and his supporters Iran and Russia or with the people and their supporters Saudi/Qatar and the West. The least evil of the choices is the Saudi/Qatar and West because:
- The majority of the Syrian populace is in revolt for good reasons. They are willing to give their lives - and they are doing it every day - for their cause
- If Saudi is not a democracy Iran for sure is by and large a far cry from a democracy. It is a theocracy and a dictatorial one at that. It is also a sectarian theocracy mainly Shiites
- For all their shortcomings, the West does have the systems that are worth emulating that is if you believe in the individual's worth as an individual with rights etc.

Thumb bigsami 05 October 2012, 20:57

Yallah Farsi schizo....pack it up. Your usual crap (comments) on this site is old and a constant recital of your shia clergyman speeches. Were not interested. Take to another pro-Iranian site and keep it there! Mishmakoul sho mastool!

Missing peace 05 October 2012, 23:28

mowaten if you truly believe what you say then you should also include iran together with saudi arabia, they support the syrian regime into killing civilians! it s the same kind of regime as syria saudi arabia and so on...

be fair if you want to present yourself as just and not biased....

Missing damascus79 06 October 2012, 09:33

Geez man don't you guys get sick of the same spiel over and over again? Can't you think of anything else but automatically attacking Saudi Arabia and assuming that I support the dictator of Riyadh. Re-read my post you and stop being ignorant and accept the fact that you belong to an outdated and marginalized ideology that will end up in the trash cans of history. I am with the revolution in Bahrain, I'm with every revolution in the Arab world unlike you who thinks that he/she can pick and chose which revolution benefits his own political agendas. I am FOR FREEDOM EVERYWHERE NO MATTER WHERE IT MAY BE. SALAM.

Default-user-icon hanna (Guest) 05 October 2012, 17:24

Mowaten, at least its less then the broken record of the song that goes:

"""next tuesday, it will end.....whallah next tuesday it will end"""""

Thumb bigsami 05 October 2012, 17:48

LMAO.....look who's talking about a broken record? Farsi schizo Motormouth aha BSThrower. FYI....knucklehead....it would have been over long time ago if it was not for Russia proetcting it's interests. The same way Iran is protecting it's interests through it proxy scums HA. Wake up you moron....HA is not a resistance! Take that broken record (illusion) of yours of "they are our savior from the Zionist" and get a life you sheep herder!

Missing samiam 05 October 2012, 18:36

Buying (or acquiring) weapons for use against your countrymen--that will win a lot of hearts and minds worldwide. So much for their supposed power to be used against Israel.

Syria hasn't fired a shot at Israel since 1973 and has left us to hang as a proxy. Bashar, his father, and the rest of scum in office can go rot in hell as far as I am concerned, as well as their supporters wherever they may be.

Default-user-icon Skeptical (Guest) 05 October 2012, 22:26

I've always wondered how many of the pictures that are circulated are photoshop products vs real pictures. I am by no means against the revolution, but I can see that some sides inside and outside lebanon have an interest is making this up.

Note that the person is holding the sign forward but the text is shown on the back. I also wonder how many people actually date their signs - particularly since it would be a waste not to use it multiple times!

I'm not a graphic designer, and i can reproduce this image from one that has been taken at any random demonstration. I can also reproduce those low quality videos of helicopters being downed. I am skeptical about the propaganda from BOTH sides of the conflict. And I feel bad for the good Syrian people who are stuck in the middle of this proxy-conflict

Missing peace 05 October 2012, 23:24

i guess M8 finds it perfectly normal that a gvt uses warplanes against its own population...instead of against israel.oh! yeah just like hezbos in lebanon who use its arms against lebanese too and call it resistance....
how can they still support a regime that is commiting crimes against humanity and don t respect the international laws? i guess it s because they are just like them.