The Two-Way
6:30 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Syrian Regime Has 'License To Kill' After Diplomatic Impasse, Activists Say

  • Steve Inskeep talks with Kelly McEvers about the violence in Homs

People in Homs, Syria, say government forces are shelling the city and that at least 15 to 20 people have died so far today. The renewed attacks follow an even deadlier weekend barrage — human rights groups say government forces killed about 200 people in Homs on Saturday, making it perhaps the bloodiest day since opposition protests began last spring.

NPR's Kelly McEvers reported on Morning Edition that activists in Syria allege President Bashar Assad's regime has been emboldened by this past weekend's veto by Russia and China of a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would have condemned the regime for killing its own citizens.

Activists believe, Kelly says, that the veto has "given the Syrian regime what they call a 'license to kill' — to keep on continuing [to attack] protesters and opposition groups on the ground, and that's exactly what we've been seeing over the weekend."

Kelly, who is in Beirut, has been speaking with people inside Homs and following news reports about what is happening there.

The BBC's Paul Wood, who is in Homs, reports "it was a quiet night until just after dawn, when we started hearing mortars falling - about one every 30 seconds. Some heavy artillery has also been used."

"There's been constant shelling," he added.

One activist in the city, Abu Abdo Alhomsy, told al-Jazeera early today that "it is horrible right here. Rockets are falling. There are massive explosions that shook buildings. We don't know really what to do."

Ahmed Al Omran, a production assistant on NPR's social media desk, is curating news from Homes on his Twitter page. A short time ago he retweeted a report from the opposition Syrian National Council that as many as 50 people may have been killed in Homs so far today.

Because there are few independent journalists in Syria — and because those who are there are having difficulty getting out to see what's happening — news outlets are relying in large part on the accounts of sources they reach by telephone and on the videos and blog posts of citizen journalists inside the country.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.