An affluent Syrian neighborhood turned into 'barracks'
People around the world are beginning to recognize names such as Baba Amr and Khaldiya, neighborhoods in the Syrian city of Homs that have been strongholds of protests under military attack.
But there are other neighborhoods of Homs in which life has been increasingly dangerous and difficult since the offensive on Baba Amr started 10 days ago.
One of them is Inshaat, a predominantly Sunni area north of Baba Amr. It used to be a relatively wealthy neighborhood with wide streets and green trees. Now Inshaat looks like a military barracks, said Osama, an activist from Inshaat reached via phone.
"It's full of tanks and soldiers. Snipers took over two high-rise buildings in the neighborhoods and made them a base for themselves,” said Osama, who gave only one name to protect his safety. He said approximately 30 Inshaat families were given three hours to leave so that snipers could move in, bringing the total of displaced families to 80.
"I have seen military trucks loaded with furniture, TV and computer screens. The uninhabited houses are being ransacked," Osama said.
Because access to the area is limited, his statements could not be independently verified. A YouTube video uploaded from Syria, seen above, purports to show some of the damages. The person taking the video says that roughly 100 families have fled the neighborhood, an even higher toll than Osama stated.
Internal displacement has becoming the new reality of Homs and Syria as a whole, as families flee dangerous neighborhoods and towns. Several activists said people are starting to leave ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Homs, alarmed by reported massacres with ethnic undertones.
The map below, from Google Maps, shows some of the neighborhoods in Homs. Syrian authorities have laid blame for the violence on armed terrorists backed by other countries, while opposition activists say the government has indiscriminately attacked civilians in opposition hubs.
-- Rima Marrouch in Beirut
Video: Footage uploaded to YouTube by user alkaramh1 purports to show damage to the Homs neighborhood of Inshaat.