Inside the Battle for Homs, Center of Resistance to Syria's Assad

(Telegraph-UK) Paul Wood - A heavy machine gun was still clattering away in the pitch black as the five soldiers described how they had just deserted from the Syrian Army to join the revolution. A sixth had not made it. "We heard him screaming," said Mahmoud Ali, one of the defecting soldiers, "but we couldn't go back." They had fought their way out of their base, running under fire to reach the Bab Amr quarter of Homs. Now, people were coming out into the street to embrace them, the newest members of the Free Syrian Army. Earlier that day they were ordered to fire on unarmed protesters in the streets of Homs. "They gave us the order to shoot on the demonstrators," said Ahmed Daleti. "So we said 'No,' these people are peaceful. They just want freedom. We are all one people, one blood - we couldn't just shoot them." We had entered Syria from Lebanon with men running guns to what is a growing insurgency. Arriving in Bab Amr, we saw members of the Free Army on street corners with heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. Lt. Waleed al Abdullah, one of the Free Army leaders in Homs, said that the regime would quickly crumble if there was a no-fly zone in Syria, just like the one NATO imposed over Libya. "70% of the army are ready to defect," he said. "Whole brigades with their officers; even the Special Forces."

2011-11-28 00:00:00

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