Reports on Wednesday pointed to a continuing insurgent advance in Hama Province, nearing Hama city and one of the regime’s major military airports.
Video from al-Sheer, northwest of Hama:
In a sign of the seriousness of the threat, the Syrian military has withdrawn troops from Morek, the key town north of Hama which it has attacked for months, to reinforce Hama.
State news agency SANA’s only reference to the offensive this morning: “A military source said the army units clashed with terrorists near Aqairbat village in Hama countryside and killed and injured scores of them.”
Hama, Syria’s 4th-largest city, is in the west-center of the country. In 1982, tens of thousands of people were killed there by President Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, amid an uprising. Scene of some of the largest protests from March 2011 against the current regime, it was secured by the Syrian military in 2012.
The Hama Military Airport is important as a center for the production of barrel bombs as well as aerial attacks on insurgent-held areas. It is also a key transport hub for Syrian forces moving to the north and south of the country.
Video: Casualties from Wednesday’s Regime Shelling of Douma
Footage of scores of dead and injured from yesterday’s attacks on the Damascus suburb of Douma:
EA sources put the death toll at 25 with 100 wounded.
An AFP photographer in Douma said shelling hit several parts of the town, including a busy market area.
“The shelling came suddenly. One minute, children were playing in the market, the next, there were body parts and wounded people everywhere,” Abd Doumany said.
US Announces Humanitarian Aid, Denounces Regime Sieges
The US Government has announced $378 million in new humanitarian aid for Syria, while denouncing the “appalling ‘starve or surrender’ tactics” of the Assad regime.
“The regime is asphyxiating half a million Syrians in Aleppo by obstructing deliveries of food, water, and medicine,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
“Syrians all over the country are being butchered at the hands of a ruthless tyrant,” Kerry said.
He condemned “the brutally indefensible and illegitimate Assad regime….dropping dozens of barrel bombs a day on the city and surrounding suburbs”, declaring, “The world must act quickly and decisively to get life-saving assistance to the innocent civilians who are bearing the brunt of this barbaric war.”
The US has allocated $2.4 billion in aid since the uprising of March 2011 — $1.2 billion for those inside Syria, and $1.2 billion for refugees in neighboring countries.