At least 15 people, including army officials, were killed and 24 others were injured, some of them critically, in a car bomb blast in the Syrian city of Homs on Sunday, SANA news said. Many nearby residential buildings were damaged in the blast.
Activists posted a video on YouTube claiming to show the aftermath of a car bomb in Homs. However, videos and reports are difficult to verify because the regime restricts access to foreign media in Syria.
Meanwhile, state-run Anatolia news agency reported that shellfire from Syria hit a Turkish border town late Saturday. The shells landed near the town of Reyhanli amid clashes between regime forces and Free Syrian fighters around Syria's Bab al-Hawa border post with Turkey, without causing any casualties or damage. It was the first cross-border shelling since Ankara requested that NATO deploy Patriot missiles along the restive frontier.
In the same context, on Friday Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said that Moscow has informed the organization that they need clear technical documentation indicating that US missile defense will never target Russian territory. Moscow needs assurances that the system is specifically designed to counter potential missile threats outside the Euro-Atlantic area, without undermining the strategic balance—that is, without intercepting Russian strategic nuclear weapons, he added.
Grushko also stressed that the technical data provided to Russia should include geographical location of interceptors, radars, the speed of warheads and many other elements that are absolutely clear to the military.
In related news, a New York Times report Saturday revealed that Western intelligence officials are increasingly concerned about new movements at chemical weapons storage facilities in Syria. The report quoted a US intelligence official as saying the Syrian regime is doing things that suggest their intention to use the weapons. “It’s not just moving stuff around,” the official said. “These are different kind of activities.”
Intelligence officials are tight-lipped on what the movements signify, but have suggested it could be the regime preparing for one last-ditch effort to beat the armed opposition.
It is worth mentioning that dissident Syrian Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass warned that the Assad regime might use chemical weapons in case of a stranglehold, adding that this may easily happen if the regime feels that he cannot handle it anymore.
One of the forums relating to the opposition has mentioned that the Free Syrian Army website confirmed that the explosion had targeted one of the military leaders in Homs. Furthermore, the car that exploded was a military car, and it was stressed that the area where the explosion occurred was not a civilian area and thus the victims were members of the security and intelligence. At the same time, the Free Syrian Army warned that the regime media is not giving the truth of any news issued.
Free Syrian fighters had targeted the Syrian information minister in one of the bombings, but the minister survived. Nevertheless this was a message sent to him that the Free Syrian Army understands his role in helping the regime.
The general situation in Syria is very bad. My friend over there told me, via Skype, that the regime has increased the pace of air strikes. He added that the situation in Damascus nowadays reminds the Syrian people of their war with Israel in 1973. Despite that, champions of the Free Syrian Army are moving on the ground with all their activity. Unfortunately, the media coverage in Damascus is very weak. What reaches us is only a little of the painful truth.
We notice that Russia is very concerned that spreading Patriot missiles should not affect the security of Russia. This means they will not oppose the missile deployment on the Turkish-Syrian border, as long as it does not pose danger to them. Thus we can realize that there are changes in the Russian attitude, and we hope Russia will join the international community and help to protect the Syrian people.
I guess that dropping Russian planes every day by the Free Syrian Army is a direct message to Russia from the opposition that the Russian weapons market is in danger. Apparently the Russians are keen to protect their industry, which the Free Syrian fighters managed to negatively affect Russia for its careless attitude toward the Syrian people.
As for the intelligence reports about moving chemical weapons, the possibility of the regime using these weapons is very weak. However, I consider these threats a message to the whole world that the Syrian regime does not want the international community to deal with the opposition. Bear in mind that the opposition is about to form a government in exile. Besides, there is some information talking about military and financial support to the opposition. Obviously this is a threat to the Syrian regime, which is now very sure that the end of his bloody regime is approaching, perhaps before Christmas. Therefore, I hope that the New Year’s gift for the Syrian people will be the end of this terrorist regime, which has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.