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Assad Regime Begins Policy of ‘Submit or Starve’ in Hama, Homs

Pro-regime forces prevent food from entering towns and villages in southern Hama and northern Homs in an effort to force armed opposition to comply with demands
Assad Regime Begins Policy of ‘Submit or Starve’ in Hama, Homs

Al-Souria Net’s correspondent in Hama, Hassan al-Amari, said that regime forces Saturday closed the last vital entrance to the southwestern Hama countryside and northern Hama countryside, the loyalist Bareen village, which is considered the last of the vital routes for food rations in the southern Hama countryside from the direction of Aqarib village.

According to Al-Souria Net’s correspondent, the areas of the southern Hama countryside and the northern Homs countryside — namely Aqarib, Talafit, Hirbnafsah, Khirbet al-Jami in the southern Hama countryside, and al-Houla, al-Samalil, al-Birj, and Kaisain in the northern Homs countryside — could be considered completely under siege from the moment the regime closed the entrance, threatening a true humanitarian disaster in the coming days for the 120,000 people spread throughout the area.

Amari said that pro-regime shabeeha militants from Bareen had been allowing limited amounts of food to be brought toward Aqarib in exchange for large sums of money, but that the military campaign for control of the village of Hirbnafsah failed from the opposite direction of the southern countryside, and that talks which had been ongoing for two days also failed. The talks had been run by Sunni sheikhs from Hama, sent by the governor of Hama city to negotiate with opposition forces in an effort to allow regime maintenance crews to repair international power lines which had been cut.

This pushed regime forces to order shabeeha militants to close the entrance and refuse entry to these areas to pressure opposition forces to submit to their conditions and allow work crews to enter to fix the electricity without withdrawing from the area of Hirbnafsah.

Abu Khalid, a resident of Khirbet al-Jami, spoke to Al-Souria about his experiences at the Bareen checkpoint: “After we finished loading the last carload of food to bring it from the Bareen exit toward Khirbet al-Jami, and then Aqarib, one of the militants at the checkpoint, a shabeeha member from Bareen, said they had orders from the Hama military airport to close the entrance and not permit anyone to leave the area, and that all cars moving on the route were a target for the checkpoint’s artillery.”

Abu Khalid said the militant had indicated that this order was a response to the failure of the military campaign against Hirbnafsah and that the regime was determined to launch a campaign from the west of the southern Hama countryside.

The target would be Aqarib and would begin with the closure of the road. He added that if the armed opposition did not submit to the demands to permit the repair of the power lines, the regime would resort to starving the area and then waging an even harsher military campaign from the direction of Aqarib.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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