Middle East
1:00 pm
Sat February 4, 2012

More Than 250 Killed In Syrian Violence In Homs

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

NPR's Kelly McEvers has been following events in Syria from neighboring Lebanon, and she joins me now from Beirut. Kelly, as we just heard, the UN Security Council has failed to agree on a resolution condemning Bashar Assad. Any reaction from Syria?

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Yeah. We've spoken to some activists inside Syria, and their reaction is, look, these are repressive governments. We're not surprised that they are supporting a repressive government. There is quite a bit of dismay on the part of the activists. The world stood by other countries during their uprisings, but they sort of feel abandoned. They feel like this veto gives the Syrian regime, you know, continued license to go on killing its own people.

RAZ: Meanwhile, of course, the violence inside Syria has actually escalated, I understand. What can you tell us about what you've been finding out from the city of Homs?

MCEVERS: Just last night, we saw a massive offensive against an anti-government stronghold. We're confirming that, you know, hundreds of people have died. It started in the evening. Protesters had finished their kind of Friday protest. They're rolling up their banners getting ready to go home. And they say that government troops began shelling residential areas of the city, predominantly an area called Khalidiya, which is known to be a stronghold of anti-government sentiment.

They say the shelling went into the night continuous. One activist we spoke to described it as hell. That the shells were just raining down from the sky attacking civilians in their homes. Another witness that we spoke who went the next morning said that, you know, there were bodies in the streets, women in their pajamas clutching their faces, screaming out names of family members who they couldn't find, injured children, people going to makeshift hospitals, lack of blood, people missing limbs. I mean, it sounds like, from what we've heard and what we've confirmed, it was probably the deadliest day in this uprising.

RAZ: Kelly, as you know, the overwhelming assumption by leaders in the West is that there's an inevitability. I mean, it's just a matter of time before Bashar Assad is overthrown. Is that sense of inevitability exist in Syria among the opposition?

MCEVERS: Among the opposition, sure. I mean, of course, there's a lot of bravado. You know, we saw this in other uprisings as well. It's just a matter of time before our brave souls will bring this to an end. And you do see there are cracks forming. There's definitely more cracks forming in the military. There are more defections. The economy is not doing well. The currency is plummeting.

You're actually now seeing protests in places where you didn't before, primarily in Syria's second city Aleppo. We've seen protests there over the last few days. That's a major change. But is this inevitable? I mean, is this going to happen in weeks or months? We cannot say that with certainty. This regime could hold on for a while.

RAZ: That's NPR's Kelly McEvers in Beirut, following a story in neighboring Syria. Kelly, thanks.

MCEVERS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.