At least 30 people, including two boys, were killed in Syria’s anti-government protests Friday, while activists forecast a “massacre” in Hom by the army.
The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, said military troops and vehicles have surrounded Homs, and thousands of troops have manned more than 60 checkpoints just inside the restive city that has been a center of anti-government revolt, CNN reported.
“These are all signs of a security crackdown operation that may reach the level of a total invasion of the city,” the SNC said in a news release, warning a “massive number of casualties” could occur.
“Evidence received from reports, videos and information obtained by activists on the ground in Homs indicate that the regime is paving the way to commit a massacre in order to extinguish the revolution in Homs and to discipline, by example, other Syrian cities that have joined the revolution,” the council said.
The Local Coordinating Committees, another activist group, said at least 15 people were killed in Homs Friday and 15 others were killed elsewhere in Syria. Women and children were among those killed, the LCC said.
The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two of those killed in Homs were boys, ages 10 and 12, the BBC reported.
The Syrian National Council accused the regime of President Bashar Assad of fomenting sectarian violence, and CNN noted more than 30 corpses found in Homs Monday were all believed to be victims of sectarian violence.
“The regime has tried hard to ignite the sectarian conflict using many dirty methods, which have included bombing and burning mosques, torturing and killing young men, and kidnapping women and children,” the SNC release said.
The United Nations said last week more than 4,000 people have died in Syria since the violent government crackdown on protesters began in mid-March.
Meanwhile, activists said the failure of Syria’s opposition groups to offer a united front is undermining efforts to topple Assad’s government.
The SNC has failed to embrace the Free Syrian Army, formed by Syrian Army deserters, and their desire for more aggressive military action, The New York Times reported Friday
Some members of the Syrian National Council say the rebel army is feeding the Assad government’s efforts to make it appear opposition efforts are tied to a foreign plot.
The official Syrian news agency SANA blamed Thursday’s attack on an oil pipeline on the outskirts of Homs on an “armed terrorist group,” which is the government’s term for the opposition. Some activists in Homs say the government may have orchestrated the incident to help justify plans to besiege the city, the Times said.