Terrified Syrians pack up to flee capital

‘Matter of weeks’ to topple Assad

continued from page 2

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Mr. Ghadbian added: “If the international community does not have the stomach to intervene to protect civilians, then at least they should enable Syrians do that.”

The regime’s soldiers have been selling weapons to the rebels, according to some activists.

“These soldiers think there is no opportunity for the regime to be viable in the future, so they are trying to make easy money,” Dr. Azzawi said.

The Assad regime has shown signs of crumbling as the conflict has dragged on.

It was dealt a significant blow this month with the defection of Gen. Manaf Tlas, a member of Mr. Assad’s inner circle.

Activists expect many more desertions.

“A lot of people are sending us clear messages asking one question: ‘Can you protect our families if we desert the army?’” said Dr. Azzawi. “Large numbers in the army are waiting for the right moment [to defect].”

The regime has responded to the fighting in Damascus by intensifying its crackdown on rebel strongholds across Syria. Its forces have used helicopters, tanks and heavy artillery in recent operations.

In the western city of Homs, residents in four neighborhoods — Jouret Sheiah, Al-Qarabees, Al-Khaldeia, Al-Qosour — have been under siege for more than a month, said Abu Rami, a Homs-based Syrian activist who used his nom de guerre.

Dozens of people have died and more than 400 people have been injured in the recent offensive in Homs. The city is experiencing acute shortages of food and medicine.

Mr. Annan’s diplomatic efforts have not won him many friends in Homs.

“The people in Homs think that Annan is a partner with a killer — Bashar Assad and his regime,” said Abu Rami. “We have had no benefits from his missions, instead there has only been an increase in the massacres.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.


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