Syrian Government tank in Homs
Based on videos taken by human rights activists on the scene, what has been happening in Syria, particularly in the city of Homs, is a government sponsored military siege of the city.
The Arab League, in a recent "agreement" reached with the Hafez Assad led Syrian government, has just sent "observers" into the country on Monday and arriving in Homs on Tuesday. Thus far the observers have not made any official reports.
The "observers" task is to "monitor pledges made by Assad to withdraw his troops and tanks from cities and release political prisoners". However, the "agreement" is quite telling; the government is to provide transportation for the "observers" and apparently will be escorting them to conflict zones. The question begs; just how independent can these "observations" be without freedom of movement to go wherever they see fit and determine what is really happening with Syrian government monitors in tow?
Some of the latest videos taken in Homs over the weekend and Monday showed bloodied bodies lying in the streets, Syrian tanks driving through the city's streets, and in a You tube video obtained and shown on Al Jazeera, tanks in the streets firing its guns within the city's residential area.
Again, according to human rights activists, residents said many neighborhoods were without food, water or electricity and more than 30 people were reported killed in the fighting between Syrian Army and security forces on the one side and armed protesters and defecting soldiers on the other. Some residents were said to be hold up in bathrooms and lower floors of houses and could not know where the fighting was coming from.
Another video shown on Tuesday by Al Jazeera had thousands demonstrating in the streets of Homs against the Assad government. Meanwhile rallies, though not shown, were reported to be in two neighborhoods in support of the Assad regime and the army.
So is this a sign the country is descending into civil war? At this point that is an open question. From here it appears to be a situation where a majority of Syrian people protesting, along with army defectors, are just trying to defend themselves against the onslaught of the Syrian regime with its superior firepower and brutal tactics used to crush the nine month uprising opposed to it.
Though the U.N. is monitoring the situation from afar and supports the efforts of the Arab League to halt the governments' crackdown and the killing of over 1400 by the Assad regime, it seems powerless to step in, authorize or mount any effort to come to the aid of the beleaguered Syrian people.
A government's authorizing the killing of its own people, what Assad has done in Syria, was supposed to be the type of situation that would be prevented as part of the original intent and establishment of the U.N. Assad has been committing crimes against humanity. That the body has been essentially powerless to act in behalf of the Syrian people is a betrayal of its purpose and is a further testament of the world's inability to come to the aid of those who most need it.