ASIA/SYRIA - Desperate situation for Christian families in Homs, where now there is urban guerilla warfare

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - The situation of the civilians in the center of Homs is getting worse. About 400 Christian civilians trapped in the Hamidiyeh and Bustan Diwan neighborhoods along with 400 other Sunni Muslim civilians, have launched a desperate cry through the Syrian priests, the various Christian churches in Homs, that civilians are able to contact. As confirmed to Fides by the Syrian priests in Homs Fr. Abdallah Amaz, Fr. Michel Naaman and Fr. Maxime El Jamale, we are talking about Syrian-Catholic, greek-catholic and greek-orthodox families, who live hidden lives and hope to get out of a situation that is becoming harder and harder and more and more dangerous. In past days, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, after long negotiations between the warring parties managed to obtain a cease-fire, with the hope of being able to enter the area and evacuate civilians from the areas of Khalidiyah, Hamidiyeh and Bustan Diwan. But the truce was not respected and it was impossible to carry out humanitarian operations.
"Civilians cannot get out of their hiding places and they are terrified. There is only one working bakery and only some, tempt fate, go out once a day to get some food. Some of the civilians find themselves in places close to where armed militants are entrenched " explain sources of Fides in Homs. The armed opposition groups have chosen to entrench in Christian neighborhoods because they are formed by a maze of narrow streets, where heavy military vehicles cannot enter. Meanwhile, the Syrian army, for about three days, seem to have changed strategy: instead of indiscriminate bombing, they penetrate into the "hot zone" with small military units, through a passage near the district of Khalidiyah, an area where about 1,000 Sunni Muslim families reside. The soldiers try to flush out rebel groups in what promises to be, henceforth, a true urban guerilla warfare. A civilian from Khalidiyah was wounded yesterday in the crossfire. Many others, report the sources of Fides, could be victims. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/6/2012)

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