QAA, Lebanon (AP) — Syrian refugees fleeing to neighboring Lebanon on Monday said they feared they would be slaughtered in their own homes as government forces hunted down opponents in a brutal offensive against the opposition stronghold of Homs.
Activists accused the regime of trying to hide its crimes from the world as the military cracks down on an anti-government uprising that has raged for nearly a year.
With world pressure at a peak in the boiling crisis, the Syrian regime agreed to allow in two prominent international emissaries it had previously rebuffed — former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the new special envoy to Syria, and U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
Mr. Annan goes to Damascus on Saturday and Miss Amos said she will arrive in the capital on Wednesday and leave on Friday. Miss Amos said the aim of the visit is “to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies.”
The Obama administration added Syrian state television and radio to a U.S. sanctions list — part of an effort to block Syrian government assets within the U.S. The Treasury Department’s sanctions chief, Adam Szubin, said the Syrian General Organization of Radio and TV has “served as an arm of the Syrian regime as it mounts increasingly barbaric attacks on its own population and seeks both to mask and legitimize its violence.”
He said any institutions supporting President Bashar Assad government’s “abhorrent behavior will be targeted and cut off from the international financial system.”
The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that as many as 2,000 Syrians had crossed into Lebanon over the previous two days. In the Lebanese border village of Qaa, families with women with small children came carrying only plastic bags filled with a few belongings.
“We fled the shelling and the strikes,” said Hassana Abu Firas. She came with two families who had fled government shelling of their town al-Qusair, about 14 miles away, on the Syrian side.
“What are we supposed to do? People are sitting in their homes, and they are hitting us with tanks,” Ms. Firas told the Associated Press. “Those who can flee, do. Those who can’t will die sitting down.”
Lebanese security officials say more than 10,000 Syrians are believed to be in the country. One official said as many as 3,000 are believed to have crossed in recent days because of violence in Homs, though it is unclear how many have returned to Syria.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under government protocol.
Inside Lebanon, many Syrians fear agents from their own country’s security services. Stories have circulated of kidnappings and collaboration between Lebanese and Syrian security forces. Syria controlled Lebanon for decades, and Hezbollah, the party that now dominates Lebanon's government, is allied closely with Syria and Iran.View Entire Story
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