At least 416 civilians were killed by the Syrian forces across the country while the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) vowed to fight back with intense operations against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Early Saturday, the anti-Assad regime army intensified its campaign against the government’s forces as it destroyed an air intelligence building in Homs, the Syrian Media Center reported. Hours later, the media center said that a huge explosion took place in Hama close to the border entrance of Halab. And in the rebel-held al-Zabadani, the opposition fighters went on to surround a government security building, the media center said.
Ammar al-Wawi, an FSA official, told Al Arabiya that the free army vows more operations against Assad’s forces to include targets such as military and police headquarters.
But Al Arabiya correspondent said that the death toll in Homs alone included 337 people killed and 1,300 others injured. The correspondent also reported that the Khalidiya hospital in Homs was destroyed.
Residents said Syrian forces began shelling the Khalidiya neighborhood at around 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday using artillery and mortars. They said at least 36 houses were completely destroyed with families inside.
“We were sitting inside our house when we started hearing the shelling. We felt the bombardment was falling on our heads,” said Waleed a resident of Khalidiya.
It was not immediately clear what had prompted Syrian forces to launch such an intense bombardment at a time when diplomats at the U.N. Security Council are discussing a draft resolution on an Arab League plan calling for Assad to give up power.
Another 79 people were killed in other parts of town.
The grim tolls, if confirmed, would mark the bloodiest day of the almost 11-month uprising against Assad's regime.
“It’s a real massacre,” the observatory’s director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, calling for the “immediate intervention” of the Arab League to end the killing.
Al Arabiya showed images of dozens of bodies on the ground and scenes of chaos in the city, with several buildings destroyed.
Residents claiming to be from Homs took to Twitter to send out updates. One spoke of a city that “is bleeding” and under heavy bombardment and another counted “366 explosions tonight so far.”
AFP was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the videos nor of the opposition and residents’ accounts because of restrictions on reporting in Syria.
The Observatory said the violence broke out after thousands of people across Syria defied the government crackdown to mark the 30th anniversary of a notorious 1982 massacre in the central city of Hama that killed thousands.
News of the latest deaths came as a diplomat in New York said members of the U.N. Security Council would meet Saturday morning for a vote on a resolution condemning the violent repression in Syria.
The text is the same as a draft resolution sent to the council's 15 members on Thursday.
It highlights the U.N. body’s support for an Arab League plan for a democratic transition while leaving out explicit references to calls for Assad to step down, the diplomat said Friday.
The Syrian rights group, called on the people “to take to the streets in the towns and villages and to rise up against the regime which is committing a real massacre right now in Homs.”
The Homs violence followed an already bloody day in which, the Syrian Observatory said, at least 35 other people were reported killed across Syria, among them 16 civilians.
The Britain-based group said 14 soldiers were killed in clashes with the rebel FSA and that five army deserters also lost their lives.
In addition, one person died of wounds sustained on Thursday, and the bodies of three other people were either found or returned to their families.
Amid growing concern that Syria is sliding into all-out civil war, an officer with the FSA claimed the regular army “is in a pitiful state and getting close to collapsing.”
The U.N. Security Council vote is expected on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to hold face-to-face talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, amid a fresh American push for passage of the resolution.
“It is the same text that’s going to a vote,” a U.N. diplomat said on Friday, referring to the draft resolution sent to the council's 15 members the previous day.
The resolution faces an uncertain fate, as Moscow had maintained its opposition to a tougher draft resolution authored by Western powers and the Arab League.
Russia also said Friday it could not support the new draft in its current form, which states the council fully supports an Arab League plan to facilitate a democratic transition, but leaves out explicit references to calls for Assad to step down.
The Security Council has yet to adopt a resolution on Syria despite the 10 months of violence that has left more than 6,000 people dead, rights groups estimate. An earlier draft was blocked in October by China and Russia.
Clinton held what her spokesman described as “constructive” talks by telephone with Lavrov over the draft, and the pair were due to meet in Munich, likely ahead of the U.N. vote.
Meanwhile, after the Homs massacre, the Syria opposition urged Russia on Saturday to condemn killing and allow democracy in the country.
Syria Army T-72 Tanks Bomb the Homs City District of Al Khalidiya all night tonight and there are reportedly over 200 killed and 500 wounded so far. This is the biggest one day massacre of the Syria Democratic Uprising.
The bombing began tonight when 50 of Assad's soldiers defected and ran away today to the district of Khalidiya and in revenge the Assad Army began bombing the whole district of the City, killing hundreds of people and the attack is still ongoing as we write this.
------------حمص دبابات الشيلكا تقصف منازل الأمنين بشكل عشوائ
Syria Under Fire 4-2-2012
Posted by abeer on February 4th, 2012
Relayed via al-Khaldieh resident: More than 200 martyrs have fallen and the toll is rising due to the constant bombardment of the town. The LCC are working on verifying these numbers.
Security forces and shabiha stormed al-Amal Hospital where more than 50 martyers and 100 wounded civilians lie. People are afraid that everyone will be killed or kidnapped.
The regime's army continues to shell Khaldiyeh neighborhood by tanks and heavy machine-guns. Military reinforcements also arrived to the neighborhood
Reports on some buildings in Enshaat neighborhood burning from the mortars shelling by the regime's army
Idlib: Jabal Zawiya: Heavy artillery shelling and intense gunfire by security forces in Abdaita Village followed by sounds of gunfire in Ihsam Village.
Damascus Suburbs: Violent and random shelling by tanks and mortars from all directions at Zabadany and Madaya which resulted in setting fires in some buildings
Demonstration in most of the Syrian cities in solidarity with Homs and Zabadany
Heavy shelling by missles and heavy machine guns in Qusour by regime forces from the Air Force Intelligence branch.
Two explosions were heard in the Al-Malaab neighborhood. There are reports that the regime army is targeting the minaret of the Omar Bin Al-Khattab mosque where the smoke has been seen
The city is witnessing violent clashes, for the first time, between the FSA and the regime's security force and shabiha, who are located at the local police station. Regime security operatives are responding by firing randomly at FSA forces and civilan homes
Gunfire in areas along the road to Aleppo, Qusour, and west Mashtal, to coincide with demonstrations in all areas in solidarity with the cities and areas under fire..
Heavy gunfire is reported, along with chants of Allahu Akbar in solidarity with the cities being shelled.
Five held in Syria embassy protest4 Feb 2012
Around 150 demonstrators descended on the embassy in Belgrave Square amid reports of more than 200 people killed in a deadly barrage in the city of Homs.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a number of people were arrested for public order offences after the demonstration broke out at 2am on Saturday and "appropriate policing" was in place.
Windows were reportedly smashed at the building as the protest broke out.
The Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Officers are at the scene and appropriate policing is in place. Five males gained entry to the building. They have now been arrested."
It comes as the United Nations Security Council prepares to meet on Saturday to take up a much-negotiated resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria.
At least 5,500 people have died in the country since pro-democracy campaigners took to the streets last year protesting against President Bashar Assad's regime.
The movement at the UN came as activists said Syrian forces used tanks and machine guns to kill at least 200 people and wound hundreds in Homs, in what appeared to be the bloodiest episode since the uprising began.
The move towards a vote came after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton spoke by telephone with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in a bid to overcome Russian opposition to any statement that explicitly calls for regime change or military intervention in Syria.
Western powers have ruled out military action but want the world body to endorse an Arab League plan that calls on the president to hand power over to Syria's vice president.