BEIRUT, Aug 24, 2012 (AFP) – The opposition Syrian National Council on Friday urged the international community to help civilians besieged by the military in the central city of Homs, saying they face a humanitarian “catastrophe.”
“The Syrian National Council received an appeal for help from inside the city of Homs, where residents have been besieged by the criminal regime for 80 days,” a statement said.
It said that “thousands of civilians are being deprived of food and medicine,” and charged that government troops were pounding homes, hospitals and shelters daily with shells and rockets.
According to the SNC, troops have cut supply routes to Homs where residents are facing a “humanitarian and health catastrophe.”
The SNC urged the United Nations, Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to “intervene quickly to save those besieged in Homs and prevent a catastrophe from exterminating entire families.”
Homs, dubbed the “capital of the revolution” by activists, has seen some of the fiercest battles between the military and rebels since the uprising against the central government erupted in March 2011.
The army launched a major assault on the city in February to reclaim rebel bastions, namely the district of Baba Amr which insurgents lost in March after holding it for several months.
With Damascus the political capital and the northern city of Aleppo the main commercial hub, Homs, with its 1.6 million residents before the conflict erupted last year, represents the country’s industrial lifeline.
To the east and west of the city are oil refineries and gas fields, a car assembly line for Iran’s Khodro Company (IKPO) as well as a raft of other private industries.
Homs is also an important road junction through which pass transit goods arriving from the Mediterranean on their way through Syria to Iraq.
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