[Warning: As the title suggests, article discusses the carnage from the attacks on Homs in detail.]
CAIRO — During a terrifying two minutes on Wednesday morning, 11 rockets slammed into a single apartment building in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, the city in Syria that has been besieged by government forces for 19 days.
When the barrage stopped, the surviving occupants stampeded down the building’s narrow concrete staircase, hoping to escape to the street. Then suddenly the bombardment resumed. More rockets splattered masonry and scattered shrapnel, blowing holes in walls and staircases, and leaving a trail of the dead and the dying from the fifth floor on down.
At least 22 bodies, including that of 6-year-old Mohammad Yahia al-Wees, were recovered from the scene, according to accounts and videos compiled by activists. And on the stairwell of the ground floor, 10 yards from the door and possible safety, amid the rubble, lay two foreign journalists, Marie Colvin, a veteran war correspondent, and Rémi Ochlik, a noted photojournalist. Both had been killed. They were among the few outsiders able to reach Homs, taking great personal risks and defying a government determined to hide its repression from the world. In the end, they died trying to reveal what was happening there.
As hundreds of homemade videos pouring out of Homs have made clear, the bombardment of the apartment building was just one episode in the Syrian Army’s daily and sustained assault on the city. Heavy weaponry has been used to devastating effect against civilian neighborhoods that have virtually no defense, beyond a few army defectors and lightly armed activists.
One video distributed Wednesday shows a group of men laid out on blankets, their grisly wounds as visible as the anguish on the faces of onlookers. Another captures doctors lamenting their lack of supplies as they treat the wounded. Buildings are so pockmarked that they seem to be on the verge of collapse. The scenes are accompanied by eerie audio with cries of despair, explosions and activists’ commentary about the scenes before them.
“This is the first YouTube war,” said Rami Jarrah, co-director of the Activists News Association, a Cairo-based group that collects information from inside Syria and distributes it.
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