July 18, 2011 Reuters
BEIRUT (Reuters) - At least 30 people were killed at the weekend in
clashes between residents in Homs, a human rights group said, the first
reported factional fighting since protests against President Bashar
al-Assad erupted in March.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on
Monday that clashes between pro- and anti-Assad residents started on
Saturday afternoon after the bodies of three government supporters,
kidnapped last week, were returned to their relatives dismembered.
"At least 30 civilians were killed ... they fell after civil fighting
between pro and anti-regime (residents) started on Saturday," the
Observatory said in statement.
"These clashes are a dangerous development that undermines the revolution
and serves the interests of its enemies who want to turn it into a civil
war," he said.
Homs, Syria's third largest city, has been a focal point of the Syrian
uprising since the military stormed the central city two months ago to try
to crush street protests calling for Assad to step down after 11 years in
The city is a microcosm of Syria's religious diversity with a Sunni Muslim
majority living alongside minority groups, including Christians and
Alawite Muslims, Assad's own sect.
The anti-Assad protests started in Syria's poorer Sunni rural areas, but
quickly spread to cities which have more of a sectarian mix. More than
1,400 civilians have been killed since the uprising began, human rights
Syrian authorities blame armed groups with Islamist links for the violence
and say at least 500 policemen and soldiers have been killed since March.