New satellite images released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights group, appear to show the damage sustained in Homs after government forces shelled the central Syrian city.
The images focus on the besieged neighborhood of Bab Amr, which has become the epicenter of the year-long uprising.
HRW said Friday that the above image, taken of Bab Armr on Feb. 25, shows damage caused by “surface-delivered explosive weapons” in a populated area.
The many red circles indicate damaged or destroyed buildings, while the yellow circles indicate impact craters in fields or roads. The group estimates that 950 craters are visible in the images, and 640 buildings show damage.
The Washington Post cannot independently verify the images shared by HRW, but The Post’s Liz Sly reports that Bab Amr has been shelled by the Syrian army for nearly a month. On Friday, the Red Cross said Syrian authorities had blocked aid to Bab Amr. Most of the Syrian rebels who were fighting in Bab Amr have fled or were killed in the shelling as they tried to escape, Sly reports. Thousands of civilians remain in the neighborhood.
The shelling has also been recorded on video, including in the following footage shared Tuesday by the Associated Press:
In an interview that aired Thursday, Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa, who escaped Homs this week, described constant, “systematic shelling” in Bab Amr. He said the shelling began daily at 6 a.m. and continued until 6 p.m., with a one- hour break in between for lunch.
And in a note posted in early February to his Facebook page, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford shared similar satellite photos to the ones released by HRW. Ford wrote that the images clearly showed the Syrian government was using artillery and mortars against its own people in residential neighborhoods in Homs.
One image HRW shared Friday showed what they said were tanks and other armored vehicles on a secondary road to Aysoon, just west of Bab Amr:
Another image the group share appears to confirm the presence of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other military vehicles at the northwest entry point of Homs. What appear to be two tanks in the image are seen driving southward to Bab Amr:
A final close-up image shows large dust clouds, which the rights group said was most likely caused by the impact of several shells that landed just before the satellite image was taken. The image also shows hundreds of impact craters in nearby fields:
The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, estimates that 26 people died in Homs on Thursday, not including those who were killed in Bab Amr and its immediate surroundings.
The United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 people have died since the uprising began.