February 20th, 2012
11:11 AM ET

Inside Syria: 'What is the world waiting for? For us to die of hunger and fear?'

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon reported from Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city  especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment for two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.

Damon is one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:

This small hall was once filled with laughter. Marriages took place here. Now the echoing sounds are not of joy, but of tragedy.

In this makeshift bunker, some of the families of Baba Amr who have nowhere else to go huddle. But, it offers them very little comfort.

"We're not sleeping at night, we're not sleeping during the day," a man named Ilham howls. "The children are always crying, the bombs are coming down."

Often they huddle in near darkness.

Some cover their faces, still afraid of the government's relentless shelling. They are afraid, they said, they might lose more than they already have. Conditions here are desperate

In hard-hit Baba Amr, about 350 people who've fled their homes out of fear or necessity are living in the makeshift bunker.

Restricted by seemingly constant shelling and gunfire outside, they don't have any medicine, let alone the ability to get to a hospital. Children are getting sick, and one woman recently gave birth there. They have little food  some lentils and rice and a little bread.

They fled here either because their homes were destroyed by shelling, or because the firing was getting too close.

Just about everyone in the bunker says they've either lost a loved one to the violence, or have a loved one who has been detained.

One woman's son has been detained since the end of august, another woman's son, this one right here for a month and a half.

We just walked in here and we've been swamped, bombarded by these people's tragic stories here.

Most of them survive on basic staples of rice and lentils taken from a government warehouse nearby, but supplies are running low.

The room is one filled with endless stories of both death and despair.

Safa'as brother and husband were killed when a round struck their home 10 days ago. She can hardly pause to grieve or really comprehend what has happened.

"I have to keep going, I have to live for my children," she says.

The activists take a moment to gather for our camera. All they want is to tell their stories.

"My husband died on the first day of the bombing, they didn't let me see his body, it was shredded to pieces, "Umm Khidir recalls."His blood is still in the streets and feel his son, he's sick and there is no medicine.

"He keeps crying saying I want daddy, I want daddy, I can't bring his daddy back, what is the world waiting for? For us to die of hunger and fear?"

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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Nadim

    Amazing – the Syrians want help but they didn't speak up when both Assaads – father and son – went on killing the Lebanese people like dogs and animals? Let them suffer the way the Lebanese people suffered. People dead are still under 10,000 – nothing compared to how many Lebanese died.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Rabt

      Nadim, That is wrong logic, that could be a spark for this movment, you need to support them if you believed Assads killed Lobnanes.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      Nadim – the average citizens of syria was not in involved in the mass killings in Lebanese people, why blame them in your support for Assad to kill them?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MrSkeptical

    Arwa Damon and her team have been living inside Baba Amro for several days now. Have they felt hungry too? Have they been injured or killed? I question how they are not feeling hungry or how come their lives not being threatened in the same way as the others who are supposedly being killed or dying from hunger. I smell a media war propaganda rat.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • peter

      I don't know why the media are siding with same ppl who attacked us on 9/11 , if they cant smuggle food i would like to know how they smuggled Araw

      February 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • rightwrong

      Are you guys idiots or do you not have a heart? SYRIANS are people, too. Why did Bush go into Iraq and kill thousands of soldiers, both Iraqis and Americans? He also terrorized their world. Therefore, to not help the Syrians and claim that "they attacked us on 9/11" which is totally ludicrous considering no Syrian was involved in 9/11, is said by a monster not a human.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrSkeptical

      Only idiots would believe this crap. First there are many reports that most of these rebels are AlQaeda terrorists from outside Syria. Second, they are smuggling weapons and they were able to smuggle Arwa and her team. So to whine that they have no food is just so laughable. There are open channels from Lebanon that these rebels are getting weapons and terrorist crossings. They can bring food with them. Third, these are not the whole people of Syria as Baba Amro or even Homs is not the whole Syria.. So the call should be to help people in Baba Amro not Syria that if they really need any help.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      Peter – most syrians did not support or not support the 9-11, a few haters of the U.S. did, but you'll find them in dozens of countries, yet to seem to support Assad's efforts to commit mass murders of those seeking freedom and the right to elect the leader of "their" choosing, now who is worlse?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      syria conflict is inspired by the arab spring movement which gave the average citizens the courage to protest for the freedom and the right to elect the leader of "their" choosing, instead of Assad electing himself decade after decade, Assad is worse than Gadhafi in his twisted aim to stay in power by killing children in vain to scare others from protesting against him. The world should not turn a blind eye while watching this evil dictator slaughter thousands more. Syria has a new opposition army that should be help like the french did during the american revolution. The least america and many countries can do is to armed opposition army via Turkey, in order to give them a fair chance of earning their freedom without Assad slaughtering them all as we watch

      February 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rabt

      Did you know what hapend to French reporter last month? you need to do some math the reporters have done some training and ther are 0.00001% of the total peopelation and it's still death chase them when a time come.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      The Syrian people are not who attacked us on 9/11. I have not seen any reports that say MOST of the fighters are al-Qaeda because they aren't. They are just average citizens fighting for their freedom from the oppressive regime of al-Assad. It is no different than Americas fight for freedom from English rule. Arwa Daman is in just as much danger as the Syrian people she is reporting on. The ones like Arwa are called "hard news" reporters because they risk their lives daily in order to bring news to the world. They know the risk and accept it as part of their job. I know this is true because my brother was one for 30 years. Arwa and her team will have to be smuggled out of the country when the time comes for them to leave. She has been in Baba Amer for longer than just a few days so perhaps she was smuggled in before Assad made a serious effort to cut Baba Amer off from the rest of Syria. There have been a couple of reports on people who attempted to smuggle medicine and supplies and were killed during their effort. Don't be so naive in your thinking as to believe that this is just propaganda being spread by media outlets because it is not.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hope

    Amazing that some some people need that Christian advantage: Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Anyone who doesn't consider the expansion of China and their tyranny into the Middle East a threat to Sovereignty and Democracy is fooling themselves. Syrias army is expansive

    February 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Medium Tedium

      Unfortunately, hope, that is exactly what many people feel...that they are doing unto Syria what Syria has done to the US by celebrating in the streets after 9/11 occured.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrSkeptical

      I don't think anybody from Syria danced in the streets when 9/11 attack happened. In fact, I recall that the president of Syria (Assad) was one of the first world leaders to condemn 9/11 and president G W Bush thanked Syria for the help they provided on the war on terrorism during his State of the Union address after 9/11. Now many of these rebels in Syria are AlQaeda terrorists and they are the ones responsible for 9/11. To support these rebels is like supporting ALQaeda!!

      February 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Medium Tedium

      I didn't say it was right or wrong, I merely pointed out that is what some people think.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hope

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/19/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html

    February 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. swasun

    Good talk, it could be a propaganda too. ɪ̣̝̇ don't know why western Media are reporting stories from one side, what about people that are supporting Assad too? Why haven't we seen them on western media too?. These media houses are as wicked as Τ̅Ħ̀ε̅ people holding guns and bombs around Τ̅Ħ̀ε̅ world. Its a shame why ɪ̣̝̇ studied mass communication!

    February 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope

      Check other news sources... the stories are the same

      No conspiracy, just people in need. Why should it be such a surprise that a nation of people seeking freedom and democracy from a secular regime should fall under violent attacks? Peaceful demonstrations never hurt anyone. Its obvious what we're dealing with.

      I stand with them in a world of man's making cause, in this system that's all we can do to try to protect our brothers and sisters... all of them. Everyone, even those perceived as our enemies. Not everything is based on political idealism... somethings are, simply, the right thing to do.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hope

    Send in the drones!

    February 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John M.

    Important message to the world – syria conflict is inspired by the arab spring movement which gave the average citizens the courage to protest for the freedom and the right to elect the leader of "their" choosing, instead of Assad electing himself decade after decade, Assad is worse than Gadhafi in his twisted aim to stay in power by killing children in vain to scare others from protesting against him. The world should not turn a blind eye while watching this evil dictator slaughter thousands more. Syria has a new opposition army that should be help like the french did during the american revolution. The least america and many countries can do is to armed opposition army via Turkey, in order to give them a fair chance of earning their freedom without Assad slaughtering them all as we watch

    February 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. What?

    Yesterday, C N. N reported that "conservatives" are pushing our president for intervention in Syria.
    C N N has the most propaganda for war against Syria . All the blood that has been spilled/deaths/torture. There are 3 or more headlines advocating war in syria everyday.
    "when will the world act", along with similar catchy headlined articles.

    The left wants a Libya styled intervention.
    Don't blame a syrian military incursion on conservatives/Reps. M S M spinning round and round on the tea cups, pinning this on others.

    I must say Pres Obama's foreign policy is outstanding[I'm a right-leaner] for having no experience coming in. His collective approach with the UN, Arab League, and others have proven very effective.
    Mme secretary Clinton has also been a stellar choice. She has impressed me beyond what I could imagine.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      CNN was not the only network to report on the members of Congress that held a press conference yesterday to announce their position on the situation in Syria calling for the President to intervene. Why do you consider that propaganda when it is true? Sadly I feel that Obama has tied the hands of America by borrowing so much from China to finance his outrageous overspending. He has increased our national debt more than any past President has done during their entire four or eight years in office. He will not make a move unless China OK's it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      libitga – you are wrong about obama, bush doubled the national debt while he was in office and obama hasn't even come close to that, even though he used FDR method to prevent the Great Recession (caused in the bush adminstration not obama's) from becoming a Great Depression. By the time FDR took office it had developed into a Great Depression, and in order to save america from going down under, FDR borrow and spend like crazy to create jobs and bring stability to the economy

      February 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John M.

    someone should Saddam Assad before he gets a Gadhafi

    February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. justin.g

    Don't give them one bullet. They just turn around and use it on our countrymen. All those muslims are a threat to the United States with their backwards thinking. Its just sad that there maybe some innocents mixed in with those terrorist

    February 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      The only one with backwards thinking here is you. You seem to believe that because one small group of Muslims are bad then they are all bad. Your xenophobia and prejudice is showing!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      Justin – this is a movement by the people for the people inspired by arab spring, your claim that its a few citizens mixed in with terrorist is bogus and it is what Gadhafi state media tried and failed to claim

      February 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chris

    Are you people even sane. I would't help syrian people out. Look at egypt prime example, CNN is promoting terroism, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Any who celebrated 9\11 dosen't need americas help

    February 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      Syrians did not celebrate 9/11! I dare you to find one picture of people in Syria celebrating 9/11! You just echo what you have heard others say without checking the facts out for yourself.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. justin.g

    Don't give them one bullet. They'll just turn around and use it on our countrymen. All those muslims are a threat to the United States with their backwards thinking. Its just sad that there maybe some innocents mixed in with those terrorist

    February 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      justin – how does it feel to be on the side of a mass murdering dictator bent to squashing arab spring movement and freedom for the freedom, pretty sad huh. I rather be the side of those seeking freedom. Every country around the world should provide the Free Syrian Army with heavy weapontry including anti-tanks weapons and small arms to even up the playing field so that the people of syria can earn their freedom without all of them being killed by a evil mass murderer that you support

      February 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Commonsense

    Libya had virtually no sectarian divide.
    That's how there had been a consensus.

    Majority Sunnis/Salafis must ensure
    Druze, Alawais, Christians and Kurds will be protected, respected, and equal rights.
    Thats how Assad will fall.
    Minority religions feel protected by Assad.
    That is how he stays in power.
    Sunnis, prove your peaceful intentions , and you can get the others to join you.
    If you can do that, no international interventions needed.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chris

    How did arab speaking people people get english posters by CNN

    February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chris

    Where was the out cry when saddam murdered 100,000 people and gased his own people. CNN was silent on the kurds. A WAR IS GREAT WHEN YOU HAVE A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT AND WHEN THE PRESIDENT WAS GB HE WAS A WAR CRIMINAL. So whats the diffrence

    February 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John M.

      chris, seem to you its ok for bush to drop the ball on catching bin laden to invade iraq but now here you are crying about very limited involvment (couple planes and drones with no american deaths) gaining freedoms against evil dictators like Gadhafi who bragged about killing hundreds of americans by blowing up airplanes (Gadhafi's statue of a fist crushing a airplane), maybe you are just sore that it took obama to hunt down bin laden and kill him along with a war that cost no american lives

      February 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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