Defected Brigadier General Ibrahim al-Jabawi said on Monday that the Syrian regime’s gang-like militia, the Shabiha, were led by Iranian military advisors when they stormed al-Shamas district in Homs.
The defected general said Shamas did not have elements from the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), but it had people who fled other besieged areas in the central flashpoint city. Criticism is increasing against the FSA for hiding in civilian areas.
Jabawi also reported that 10 civilian men were executed and 350 others were detained.
His account was similar to the opposition Syrian National Council and activist groups on Sunday, when they said that the Shabiha summarily executed 10 civilians during a round-up in Homs.
“Ten young men were executed in the Shamas neighborhood of Homs city after the army and pro-regime gunmen stormed the area and rounded up 350 young people,” it said.
“The army called from the mosques surrounding the district for all the young men to come out into the streets with their hands behind their heads,” it said.
“Militiamen detained nearly 350 people from the Shamas district, assembled them in a courtyard and executed 10 of them,” activist group, the Syrian Revolution General Council, said.
“The fate of the nearly 340 others is unknown and we fear greatly that they have met the same fate as the 10 martyrs,” the group added.
Three children on a minibus were killed as they tried to flee with their parents from the Shamas district during the military operation, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Battles rage in Aleppo
Meanwhile, the Syrian army pressed its assault on rebels in commercial capital Aleppo on Sunday, while both sides reported atrocities and Arab foreign ministers postponed a planned meeting on the 17-month conflict.
The Arab League gave no reason for the indefinite postponement of its planned meeting in Saudi Arabia that had been due to discuss a replacement for international envoy Kofi Annan who announced his resignation earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia is to host an Islamic summit focused on Syria to drum up support for the anti-regime revolt. Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf held talks late Sunday in the Saudi city of Jeddah to prepare for the summit.
In Aleppo, troops shelled rebel-held districts as fighting flared anew around a southwestern neighborhood that rebel fighters had quit last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Shaar, Tariq al-Bab, Sakhur, Hanano and Bustan al-Qasr neighborhoods all came under bombardment, as the army pressed a ground offensive it launched on Wednesday to recapture areas seized by rebels since July 20, the group said.
The Britain-based monitoring group also said that “communications of all forms have been cut off in the city of Aleppo as well as large areas of the province since the morning.”
The Observatory said 150 people were killed across the country on Sunday, including 49 civilians, 56 rebels and 45 regular soldiers.
In Damascus, gunfire was reported in the Qadam neighborhood. Outside the capital, machinegun fire was heard in the town of Al-Tal, where 15 civilians were killed in shelling and clashes the previous day.
Meanwhile, FSA said that it stormed an air force brigade in al-Ain in the countryside of Damascus.
On the situation in the capital, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper spoke of “foiled bids to break the calm in Damascus, which was cleansed of terrorist groups who terrified residents.”
In Aleppo, the paper said that the army was poised to assault the Sukari neighborhood in the south of the city, after its recapture of the nearby Salaheddin district on Thursday.
They were among 148 people — 85 civilians, 43 soldiers and 20 rebels — killed across Syria on Saturday, according to the Observatory.