Syrian rebels are retreating from the besieged district of Bab Amr in the central city of Homs, BBC reports. The Free Syrian Army said it was pulling out to save the lives of 4,000 civilians who refuse to leave their homes.
The retreat comes a day after communications were cut off from Bab Amr and government troops and tanks launched a major offensive to wrest control of the area, which has become the epicenter of the yearlong revolt.
The Post’s Liz Sly reported earlier Thursday that some fierce clashes between soldiers and rebels in Bab Amr were continuing. “They said they feared the violence marked an all-out attempt to crush resistance in Bab Amr,” she writes.
On a Syrian rebel Facebook page, an administrator posted the following message Thursday:
“In the name of God the Merciful, we battalion rebels in Bab Amr have decided to do a a tactical withdrawal from the neighborhood, because of the worsening humanitarian situation for the people of Bab Amr, which lacks for the people food, medicine... water, electricity and all means of communication...
“We call upon the International Red Cross and all international humanitarian organizations to enter the neighborhood of Bab Amr and provide the humanitarian needs of our people in the neighborhood who refused to leave and insisted on staying in their homes completely destroyed by shelling the fascist and brutal [attacks].”
Below the post, commenters mostly said they supported the decision. “Baba Amr, honor of the nation,” one commenter wrote.
A video from the nearby Lions Gate neighborhood in Homs, posted to YouTube Thursday, purports to show children and their fathers gathering falling snow to use as drinking water: