As the international community remains paralysed by politics, the Assad regime has continued to rain down a campaign of destruction on the people of Syria.

Torture, disappearances and assaults have become common occurrences as Assad’s regime marauds against the civilian population with impunity.

The city of Homs in western Syria has borne the brunt of a brutal four week assault by the Assad regime. It is the families of Bab 'Amr - a residential neighbourhood in Homs - that have been the worse hit.

The UN humanitarian chief and the Syrian Red Crescent team have had the first look inside the devastated Syrian district of Bab 'Amr.

What has been reported back is a suburb devastated by fighting and devoid of inhabitants.

Artillery fire has levelled whole neighbourhoods. Satellite imagery shot for Amnesty shows the extent of the devastation in Bab 'Amr. The small black marks are the scars left from Assad's field artillery.

Caption: Artillery impact craters within the neighbourhood of Bab 'Amr. © DigitalGlobe False Color Imagery, Feb. 20, 2012, Homs, Syria, 34 42 43N 36 40 58E.
Artillery impact craters within the neighbourhood of Bab 'Amr.
© DigitalGlobe False Color Imagery, Feb. 20, 2012, Homs, Syria, 34 42 43N 36 40 58E.


During the onslaught President Bashar al-Assad forces had stopped humanitarian agencies evacuating civilians or delivering vital medical aid. Those that had survived have since fled to the suburbs of Homs.

Humanitarian aid had started to trickle into Homs this week - a likely product of Russia and China's support last week for sending aid into the worst affected areas. However, at the time of writing it has been reported that Syrian authorities have again cut-off humanitarian aid to the residents of Homs.

For the people of Syria this brutality from the Syrian military is an all too familiar story.

Maha Mousa lived through the massacre of Hama in 1982. He knows that what is happening now to the people of Homs has happened before.

Maha recalled to Amnesty International that after the shelling of Hama stopped the soldiers came. What followed was two weeks of house-to-house searches and mass arrests amidst conflicting reports of collective killing of innocent residents.

The final death toll in Hama is thought to have reached up to 25,000 people.

In 1982 the massacre of Hama came under the regime of Hafez al-Assad. In 2012 it his son, Bashar al-Assad, that is leading the onslaught.

We are still uncovering what has happened in Homs during the bloodiest part of this now yearlong crackdown by the Syrian regime. Estimates of the dead continue to rise with the UN now saying over 7,500 people have died. Amnesty International is processing 6,000 names of the dead.

Splits in the international community are emerging over solutions to end this senseless slaughter, with some in favour of military action and some calling for non-interference.

Amnesty International is not advocating military intervention for one simple reason: further militarising Syria is fraught with risk and will lead to the deaths of more civilians. Our experience in the region and in conflicts tells us this.

That is why we are calling on the international community to unite and hold Assad accountable for the alleged crimes against humanity committed in Syria. We are also asking the international community to stop the flow of arms into Syria and to place pressure on the Assad regime to submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court by freezing its assets.

PS: Check out the recent BBC report on torture in hospitals in Homs. Although we cannot independently verify this footage, the Channel 4 piece seems to corroborate our October report and includes cases from the same hospital.