February 14th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Inside Syria: Fearful residents prepare for a bloody battle

Editor's note: CNN's Arwa Damon is reporting from inside Syria , where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Residents and opposition activists say they fear for their lives as shelling and snipers leave them trapped.

CNN is not disclosing Damon's location for her safety. Below are dispatches from her on what she's seeing and hearing from residents in the area.

It’s an incredibly intense situation here. It’s also incredibly emotional. Anger is running at an all-time high, as are frustration and desperation. People that we've been talking to, every single one of them has some sort of horrific nightmare or story, and some of them are still too afraid to talk about it publicly with their names attached to it.

One man we met, he had four members of his family executed as government forces, he said, were raiding their village. And he wanted to tell the story – he wanted to put out the images of loved ones. He was afraid because he said at the same time his uncle had been detained.

A lot of the younger generation, we’re talking to university students, they've all had to drop out and people repeatedly keep expressing how difficult it is for them to try to keep going, because they’re quite simply exhausted and they have lost so many loved ones.

Every single step that they take of every single day involves a phenomenal amount of plotting, whether it's something simple like trying to get a loaf of bread or something more complicated like trying to get someone who’s been wounded to some sort of medical care.

Food, medicine low in Homs

In the areas where the government crackdown is at its worst, people say there are snipers positioned on every single street corner. You could hardly cross a main thoroughfare without coming across a government sniper. And then of course there are all of the tanks and the government checkpoints.

'Everyone is waiting to die' 

What is quite interesting is how the varied opposition members have managed to set up information networks. They’re able to disseminate government (troop) positions and information fairly quickly.

We were witness to one bit of information that came through, where someone had gotten information via a network of just passing word on and having people jump on motorcycles to try to get it to the next village over, about a mass movement of government tanks.

That of course, as you can imagine, sparked widespread panic, because people did not know initially where (the tanks) were headed. But then a defector who had defected from that particular convoy showed up at this location, and he informed people of where the convoy was heading. And they were able to inform those people at that location of the government’s location as well.

On that level, there is in place a fairly sophisticated way of trying to get information out, but at the same time, it’s fairly primitive - because you have to remember that for most of the time, there is no cell phone or landline network to try to call people. So it’s all about trying to get word of mouth as fast as possible from one village, from one neighborhood to the other.

CNN asked local residents where they stand on the current situation and if the opposition thinks it can topple this regime.

They believe at the end of the day, at some point in time, who knows when, the regime is going to fall - that quite simply, they cannot go back, and Syria will not go back, to the way that it was.

But one young activist that I was speaking to put it this way: He said, “If there is military intervention, then yes, there will be a lot of bloodshed, but it’s going to be over a lot quicker. And if there isn’t military intervention, there is going to be even more bloodshed, and it’s going to take a lot longer to bring down the regime.”

What a lot of people are understanding and accepting at this stage is that this is going to be a bloody battle, that more lives are going to be lost, and that perhaps the bigger challenge for Syria too is going to be after the regime topples.

soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    this is simple survival-of-the-fittest--the students must fight or die, but with what weapons? We need to provide them with the tools, and they can provide themselves with the freedom they dream about.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Worked so well in Libya...

    I mean, c'mon! We need to do regime change...again! It worked so well in Libya! Look, the new gov't has been brought back onto the UN Human Rights Council! Of course, Libya's delegate told the body that gays are a threat to the continuation of the human species. These are the type of folks in control of Libya, Egypt, and, if we act soon, Syria!

    Good grief.

    February 15, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Greek American

    This is a sad situation in Syria and I feel for the citizens there. With that being said, the conflict resolution needs to start by somehow trying to negotiate a cease-fire and then hopefully start some talks with psycho Assad. I know this won't be easy and may not work.
    And please people with all the media propaganda talk, just stop it! We all know ALL media outlets over-report on ANY issues. Please see: 'Whitney Houston Death' for the latest example.
    Finally, for those who think Turkey is going to do anything about this issue, think again! And NO I wouldn't want to visit there. They are the biggest terrorist state, just too cowardly to do anything though except talk talk talk talk. Useless.

    February 15, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Abi Shalom

    Arwa Damon and Anderson Cooper,

    Stop your lies, you are poisoning the minds of the readers with your fabricated lies....

    If you are brave and still have a shred of journalistic integrity, show my comment and this link on your website:

    February 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The truth

    I do feel sorry for Syria and it's citizens. However, its about time that someone else steps up i.e. UN or Arab League. If your own people don't care about you why should we? Elections are comming up... and do you seriously think that any politican is going to risk it? seriously...come on people! specially after almost 10 years of war. It is some one else's turn to carry the Big stick.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tony

    The whole world listened and sympathized with jews about the holocast. Where are the jews now to speak about the syrian holocast. President Obama and his cabinate showed to the whole world their weakness infront of Russia and China. The american people has to realize now what china real face is. United States of America will become hostage to china if we donot wake up.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. JOHN

    We have no right to get involved. How dare we take sides. It is the Syrians business. Suppose we were having civil war here would we want Russia, or China to help one side or the other?

    February 20, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • adams63

      I agree with you, this is not our problem, its sad but we can't protect the whole world

      February 20, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    So the conservatives want President Obama to do something and If he does It will be wrong ,or they will said he shouldn't have done anything. Plus when you said Conservatives than you really mean Republican and they aren't happy If they do send are kid to a war some where. I really sorry for the People of Syria ,but Why can't the Muslims Like Turkey they are right there. The US can't keep being the world police a long.

    February 20, 2012 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
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