Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad have seized Baba Amr in the central city of Homs, a watchdog said on Tuesday, two weeks after fighting erupted in the flashpoint district.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued the report a day after it said opposition activists had found the scorched corpses of 13 people, including five women and four children, in the village of Abel in the countryside near Homs.
“Syrian regime forces have recaptured total control of the district of Baba Amr, after more than two weeks, after rebel fighters had infiltrated the area and seized several neighborhoods,” said the Britain-based group.
An activist from the district confirmed the report, saying: “The rebels have withdrawn from Baba Amr”.
The rebel fighters had re-entered Baba Amr after the army launched an all-out assault aimed at crushing the insurgency in besieged insurgent enclaves of central Homs.
This time last year, regime forces overran Baba Amr after a relentless month-long siege that left the neighborhood in ruins and claimed hundreds of lives.
In recent days, “the army used warplanes, rockets and tank shells to bombard” Baba Amr, said the Observatory, adding residents who had fled their homes in the district returned to find them “uninhabitable”.
On Monday night, the Observatory said at least 13 scorched bodies were found in the village of Abel, in the countryside near Homs.
The victims had been “slaughtered and burned”, said the Observatory, adding that “activists blamed pro-regime militia for committing this massacre”.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground, distributed on Tuesday amateur video showing a row of buildings reduced to piles of grey rubble in a neighborhood of Homs city.
“This is total destruction... residential buildings have been destroyed... shops have been destroyed... everything inside the buildings has been destroyed,” an unidentified activist can be heard saying in the video.
“Homs is burning and no one cares.”
Elsewhere in Syria, the army pounded the towns of Dael, Jassem and Inkhil in the southern province of Daraa on Tuesday, said the Observatory, as rebels kept up an advance in the region neighboring Jordan.
And a car bomb exploded late Monday on the strategic road linking Damascus to the international airport, the watchdog added, without saying if there were any casualties.
Rebels have tried for months to seize control of the road linking the Syrian capital to the airport, the Assad regime’s main link to the outside world.
The U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since anti-regime protests broke out in March 2011, transforming into an insurgency when the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown.
Syrian Army recaptures Homs’ Baba Amr: NGO