In the latest blow to the beleaguered citizens of Homs, a pipeline close to the city exploded yesterday. Satellite images captured the magnitude of the fire and the thick smoke covering the city. The pipeline was reportedly on fire at the edge of Baba Amr district, a neighborhood that experienced some of the heaviest attacks by government forces.
Homs has been under shelling for almost two weeks now. When Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution on February 4, they effectively gave a green light to the regime in Syria to continue its violent crackdown. At least 377 civilians have been killed in Homs in recent days as Syrian security forces escalated their shelling of civilian neighborhoods in the besieged city. Medical supplies to treat hundreds of wounded are dwindling. The dead include 29 children.
Today, the UN General Assembly will vote on a resolution condemning the escalation of violence and human rights violations, which we (and the UN) believe amount to crimes against humanity. Resolutions in the assembly cannot be vetoed; however, they are not legally binding. Nevertheless, strong support for the resolution would send a clear and unified message to President al-Assad and would further isolate the regime. It would provide a strong boost to the advocacy work of the many organizations working on human rights issues in Syria. Our central calls will continue to consist of a referral to the International Criminal Court and an asset freeze of al-Assad and his senior associates. Additionally, our call for a comprehensive arms embargo is now more important than ever following the increased use of heavy weaponry by the regime.
Monitoring Syria Through New Technologies
Over the following weeks, we will attempt to keep monitoring developments in Syria through the use of satellite images. We plan to monitor and document attacks against residential neighborhoods, building on our years of experience using remote sensing for human rights research. Watch this space for updates. In the meantime, please take a look at our interactive Eyes on Syria map to explore human rights issues in the context of the uprising.
For updates on developments in Syria and our work with satellite images, please follow me on Twitter.