While Syrian government helicopters and tanks are pounding the western town of al-Haffa and the surrounding villages, ground troops are rounding up young men and looting houses, according to Syrian rebels who have fled to Turkey.
The withdrawal of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from the besieged town of al-Haffa in Lattakia is tactical to avoid more killings among civilians, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday citing a statement by the rebel army, as NATO chief said that foreign military intervention was “not the right path” in Syria.
The statement said that al-Haffa and the surrounding villages have been exposed to continual shelling by the Syrian government forces and its “shabbiha” militias for eight successive days, causing big damages in the area’s infrastructure and shortages in water and electricity supplies.
As the Free Syrian Army is keen to avoid any more massacres to be committed by the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad against civilians, orders have been given to FSA fighters to withdraw from the town and its suburbs and to evacuate the killed victims and the injured civilians, who include women and children, the FSA statement said.
FSA Chief Riyadh al-Asaad had told Al Arabiya in a phone call that the Syrian regime has become hysterical after it failed to control several regions.
Recovering at a hospital in the Turkish city of Antakya, a wounded Free Syrian Army fighter described the assault on al-Haffa by government forces and how he was shot trying to rescue the wounded.
“First, helicopters attack the villages, later the tanks attack, and then at the end soldiers enter the houses, loot them and set fire to them,” said Mohammed, a 25-year-old fighter who had been shot through the shoulder.
At least 50 wounded have been smuggled across the border to Turkey from Haffa over the past few days but many more are trapped by fierce fighting and those that try to escape are fired on by President Assad’s forces, according to rebels in the southern Turkish province of Hatay.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned certain Western countries about the repercussions of any act of adventurism in Syria and said that they should act wisely in this regard and avoid making decisions that precipitate a crisis in the entire region.
The Obama administration on Tuesday criticized Russia for sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Russia’s stake in Syria provides Moscow with valuable geo-political influence. The only way they would give that up is if they could be assured that Washington and its allies would not try to exploit a political transition for their own interests, which is virtually an impossibility.
Additionally, Russia’s support of Syria is probably one of the primary reasons the U.S. and its allies have opposed direct military action in the form of bombing campaigns or ground troops against the Assad regime.
The prospect for ending the bloodshed in Syria largely depends upon the foreign powers meddling in its internal politics and whether or not they will give up their own interventionist policies in exchange for an end to intractable violence.
While the U.S. condemned the Russian sale of attack helicopters to the Syrian regime, the Pentagon is currently buying attack helicopters from the very same Russian arms firm selling them to Syria. Senator John Cornyn, in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, said he was “deeply troubled that the DoD (Department of Defense) would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria.”
What Cornyn doesn’t understand is that the U.S. doesn’t object to mass atrocities and their enablers in principle.
Source: Al-Arabia & Agencies