1608 GMT: The Guardian has interviewed Fares Mohamad, a member of the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria who fears that, with 300 tanks reportedly on the outskirts of Zabadani, the key opposition stronghold is about to fall to the Syrian army:
Yesterday they fired cluster bombs. Seventy people have critical injuries and there are 18 martyrs so far.
More than 40 houses have been demolished because of the attack. More than 300 people have light injuries. We have set up a field hospital, in the basement of a house, but we don’t have any medical equipment.
There are also many people who have gone missing.
More 1,200 families have left for Bloudan [to the east of Zabadani. We don’t have any gas or fuel or communications. This is the only working telephone that we have in the town.
The Free Syrian Army are in Zabadani, but they can’t stop the shelling. If you have mortars coming from tanks, what can you do? All they [the military defectors] have are light weapons. They can fight soldiers face-to-face, but they cannot fight tanks.
They are resisting but they don’t have enough weapons to stop tanks.
The Syrian Army keeps attacking the town, but until now we don’t know if they will control it, because the attack is still going on.
At the start of the assault the first targets were the fire station and the hospital. They didn’t want the fire brigade to put out the fires or the hospital to treat the injured. They are now shelling residential districts.
1625 GMT: The Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre is reporting that at least 70 people have been killed today:
Some shells have fallen next to Homs refinery. And military reinforcements – including dozens of tanks – were seen heading north to Homs this morning. Zabadani, Madaya, Tafas, Tasil are also under attack while Assad’s forces are surrounding Palmyra and Sermin. Most of the military checkpoints in Hama have been removed and military forces are now deployed all around the city – we fear that regime is about to bombard Hama as well.
It’s worth noting that we’re not exactly sure where they get their numbers from. It’s also worth noting that the LCCS is also reporting that Syrian security forces, including a large amount of tanks, have withdrawn from Hama and have moved to the outskirts of the city. While they are, perhaps, alarmist in their assessment that an attack is imminent, perhaps they have reason to be alarmed, because a similar pattern took place in Homs.
There is a twist, however. Back in the fall, when the LCCS reported that they believed an attack was imminent, there was no attack for several days. The media harped on the opposition, calling it alarmist, and rebranded much of their news as propaganda.
Several days after the media criticism, then first widespread attacks on Homs began.
1724 GMT: Several different sources are reporting major military campaigns in and around Homs. The LCCS reports that the towns of Teir Maala and Ghantoo, north of Homs(see map), are being shelled. Al Rastan and Talbisah are also reportedly under attack.
The Guardian, citing a Sky News Correspondent, reports that the residents between Homs and the Lebanese vorder, to the south and west, are expecting a massacre:
“There is a great expectation that there will be a massacre here,” he said. “They are basically saying goodbye to each other.”
The Free Syrian Army was gathering, saying “this is it – they are coming now”, he said. “These are small towns, small villages, that [are] basically going to be attacked from probably the early hours of the morning, if not before.”
What was happening in Baba Amr and other districts was about to happen to these areas, people felt.
Does Bashar want to put his Hama down in the history books?
The death toll in Syria is rising extremely fast and the fighting between government and opposition forces is quickly devolving more and more into what seems like a Libya-like battle over cities, neighborhoods, and international sentiment. The more violent measures are taken against the Syrian people, the more it seems the call for international intervention will crystallize.