UK & World News
Syria: The Devastated Battlefield Of Homs
Despite heavy losses in the Bab Amr district of Homs the Free Syrian Army (FSA) still controls large areas of the city.
The FSA stronghold is the Khaldia district but it manages to keep the Syrian army out of other quarters as well.
The area is devastated. High-rise buildings have collapsed, their floors pancaked one on top of the other.
Shops and houses have also been destroyed by artillery fire. Rubble is strewn everywhere, and there appears not be a single building which is not in some way damaged.
There are still hundreds of civilians living in Khaldia among the FSA fighters who say they are there to protect them.
The Syrian government calls the FSA terrorists and insists it needs to push them out of Homs in order to liberate the city.
The sound of gunfire is constant. The clatter of small arms fire mingles with that of heavy machine guns and the occasional explosion.
To get from one district to another the locals use a variety of routes including clambering through the wreckage of peoples' houses, whilst avoiding gun fire.
In many streets, sheets of tarpaulin hang from one side to the other to prevent army snipers from having a clear line of sight into Khaldia.
In some smaller streets, which the snipers can see clearly, people break into a sprint to cross.
The Homs National Hospital is now in the hands of the FSA.
They took it from government forces a few weeks ago after an assault through the streets involving dozens of fighters attacking from two directions.
They say they lost several men in the attack but it has dislodged the government troops from what was a strategically important vantage point.
The FSA commander in Homs, Abdul Razzack Tlas, told Sky News the Government responded by shelling the hospital.
It is so badly damaged that it can never be used as a hospital again without being completely rebuilt.
The remains of 80 bodies, which had been lying in a hot makeshift morgue for months, have only just been removed.
The stench of death around the hospital remains overwhelming. Even hardened fighters were covering their faces with cloth and retching at the smell.
Abdul Razzack Tlas claimed his men are heeding the UN ceasefire but said: "The government is not respecting any of Kofi Annan's six points. The FSA is abiding by the plan and we are only here to protect the people."
The government says the opposite and that it only responds to acts of violence by "armed terrorist gangs". The UN has said that neither side is completely abiding by the ceasefire.
what do you think?
Despite the devastation at Stalingrad, as soon as the Germans pulled back thousands of civilians surfaced who nhad been hiding and living somewhere amidst the rubble. It is amazing what people can live through.
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