RPS said the attack on Homs included the Syrian 4th Army, led by
Assad's younger brother Maher. The opposition said scores of Russian-origin
T-72 main battle tanks were operating on the outskirts of Homs and blocking
entrances to the city, Middle East Newsline reported.
The Interior Ministry has banned all demonstrations in Homs,
the third largest city and regarded as the leading Islamic stronghold in
Syria. At the same time, the opposition said the Syrian Army has gathered
Sunni clerics and warned that protesters would be shot on sight.
The Assad regime has claimed that Al Qaida-aligned gunmen were attacking
Syrian police in the Homs suburb of Talbisa and killed a senior officer,
Col. Mohammed Abdul Khaddour. Officials said the gunmen also blocked the
highway between Homs and Aleppo and were firing on military patrols.
Syria also reported the capture of weapons smuggled from Iraq toward
Homs. Syrian Customs Agency director-general Mustapha Bikai said the
shipment consisted of automatic weapons, sniper rifles, night-vision sights,
rocket-propelled grenade launches and ammunition. The Iraqi driver of the
intercepted truck was arrested and confessed on Syrian television that he
received $20,000 for each weapons transport.
"I entered Syria through Al Tanf border, crossing with a large shipment
of weapons that included various kinds of advanced machine guns, automatic
rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, night-vision scopes, grenade launchers and
large quantities of various kinds of ammunition and machine gun magazines,"
the truck driver told Syrian satellite television. "I don't know the person
I was supposed to deliver the weapons to."