Iranian media outlets are bragging that the Iran-backed Syrian army has pacified portions of Homs and the adjacent countryside.
The claims come weeks after fierce fighting triggered the detonation of an ammunitions depot in the strategic Syrian city, killing at least 40 people. Rebels were at the time firing rockets at regime positions within the central city, amid an assault by forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime that had lasted the better part of a month. Assad at the time boasted openly that Syrian forces would defeat the rebellion, which has been raging in the country since early 2011.
The Wall Street Journal contextualized the incident within a larger media battle to frame the conflict:
Dozens of people were killed and wounded in the central Syrian city of Homs when a rocket attack by rebels hit an ammunition depot in a neighborhood known for its support for President Bashar al-Assad, according to residents and opposition activists.
The rocket attack coincided with broadcasts by state media of a defiant visit by Mr. Assad on Thursday to a front-line area on the outskirts of the capital Damascus to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Syrian army’s founding. The attack in Homs, which caused significant damage to homes and businesses, came four days after the Assad regime announced the capture of a separate neighborhood in the city previously held by rebels and besieged for more than a year by Syrian government forces.
The loss of Homs by the opposition would mark a strategic victory for the regime, after a mix of Hezbollah troops backed by Syrian air power seized the city of Qusayr in recent months.
Rebels subsequently slowed the regime offensive, with Reuters crediting Saudi-supplied weapons for the success.
It is unclear whether the Iranian and Syrian claims regarding Homs reflect renewed regime momentum, or if they’re attempts to address accurate coverage of slowed momentum. Fighting in the city is ongoing. Rebels this weekend attacked a military installation in the city, killing three and wounding over 50.
[Photo: ITN / YouTube]