Syrian Opposition Withdraws from Baba Amr
On Thursday, the Associated Foreign Press reported the Syrian regime had taken full control of the Baba Amr neighborhood, as a security official in Damascus stated “the last pockets of resistance have fallen. “After a 27-day siege the rebels announced a “tactical” retreat. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief, Riyadh Al-Assad, confirmed that the Revolutionary Brigades of Baba Amr “have pulled out tactically in order to protect the remaining civilians,” who are facing “a drastic humanitarian situation.” “The last pockets of resistance have fallen,” a security official in Damascus stated in an interview with AFP.
Baba Amr had been an “emblem of resistance,” where opposition forces had fiercely defended their neighborhood amidst sniper and tank fire. The retreating brigade warned the regime against “any acts of revenge that would target civilians” saying that the government forces “are responsible for the security and safety of the people living there.” The British Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported once the government forces had captured the neighborhood “a campaign of raids and arrests began almost immediately.”
Reports of the retreat coincided with the U.N. Human Rights Council voting to condemn President Bashar Assad’s government for “widespread violations of human rights.” Although the measure is non-binding and unenforceable, it addresses efforts of the international community to gain support from council members Russia and China with respect to the deteriorating human rights situation in main centers of the uprising. Russia, China, and Cuba remained steadfast in their support for the Assad regime by voting against the measure in Geneva on Thursday. The American Envoy in Geneva, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, stated in an interview with Reuters Television, that the veto was “sad” but “expected.” Donahue chastised the countries saying that the meaning of the vote “is almost as important for those three countries as it is for the Assad regime,” commenting on the effect the support given to the Assad regime has on the images of the respective countries in the international community. In response to an increase in violence, Britain and Switzerland simultaneously announced the suspension of diplomatic activities in Damascus, citing reasons of security.
The Syrian National Council announced it had formed a “military bureau,” in an effort to unify the fragmented resistance. The military bureau would organize the embattled forces in order to “track the armed opposition groups, organize and unify their ranks under one central command, define their defense mission while placing them under the political supervision of the SNC” and coordinate revolutionary activity “in accordance with the overall strategy of the revolution.”