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. fernace

    Talk about "backward thinking" & conspiracy theories! These are Syrian citizens w/very little means to fight back or protect themselves! This is not about the republicans & democrats in Washington, it's about human consideration! These people are pleading for the world to help! Are we going to shut our ears to their pleas!? That would be as heartless as al-Assads attacks on his own people! C'mon World Community, do something!!

    February 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |

      you can't fix stupid.........let them live in the 3rd century when warring barons murdered each others people......you people will have to have your own revolution.......but if the religious chain isn't broken, then just deal with it!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • The thin line between entertainment and war

      Why aren't we intervening in African civil wars? Suddenly Syria is a civil war and it's front page news day after day while, same plan as Libya. More regime change brought about by the CIA to further supposedly american interests in the regime. OIL OIL OIL

      February 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • SavingLives:)

      has nothing to do with religion, cherrypieguy
      it's a dictator that nobody wants and power. if you speak out you die, if you don't join his army you die. the only thing you got right is quote you can't fix stupid quote. your the typical ignorance
      of half of society in america, what if it was your family?

      February 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      Hey "Thin line" the US does not get oil from Syria. Syria is not even considered to be a major oil producing country and what little they do produce goes manily to EU countries. Syria and Iran closely coordinate in funding and arming the militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. That is the doings of Assad not the Syrian people.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |

    I think there are laxitty in the responsibility of members of the united nation,for christ sake why on earth should R and C vetoe proposal to condem the killin of innocent protestant.think world leaders are sick.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope


      One more post, then I need to go.

      I agree 100% with your opinion. In answer to your question, I think our world leaders ARE concerned, but, hesitant because of Syria's powerful armies and alliances. Look at Iran... strutting their navy ships and military toward Turkey. I pray that whatever the leaders do, it's well thought out and our allies stick with it, especially, those within the region.


      February 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis Davis

      Russia and China both have a sympathetic philosophy and are afraid to sign against on what they see happening in Syria. They would do well to change their minds.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      Hope, Syria does not have a powerful army by American standards. Iran sent ships to Syria to help Assad and has provided an additional 15,000 soldiers to his regieme forces. Russia is sympathetic to Assad because of their arms sales and investments. Syria and China have become major trade partners, with China being Syria’s number one supplier. China has also become a major investor in Syria, especially in their oil industry. China is a dictatorship just like Assad's regieme is. Do you not remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and how China used The People's Liberation Army to fire upon the protesters to clear Tiananmen Square and disperse the protesters? The government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events in their domestic press. The Communist Party initiated a large-scale campaign to purge officials deemed sympathetic to the protests.Sound familiar? It should because Assad is using the same tactics to try and supress the Syrian people's uprising.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope


      You're singing to the choir. Everything you've said is true. banasy has said the same thing. I have said the same thing. Many of us have... we are not stupid OR suffer from memory loss. But how many people have to die to save tje Syrians?

      This is not about oil, its about democracy and freedom. Trust me, if it were about oil, the American people would turn their heels and run. Arguing never accomplishes anything.


      February 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. junaid

    After seeing all this kind of unrest in arab world some thing big will occur very soon .i mean world war 3 can start very soon.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hope

    You can fix stupid... its called education. Its what frees people from 'third world ' conditions. Its what frees people from poverty... and oppression. Unfortunately, in this battle, its the educated and those with empathy, like doctors who are being imprisoned and/or assassinated first

    Open your eyes and your hearts...

    February 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hope


    There is no OIL in Syria.

    Not sure if that's good or bad..

    Would it make a difference? Should it?

    February 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dennis Davis

    We have a lot to complain about with the middle east but, this is a moment of opportunity to further the kind of change we would like to see in the middle east to make the world a better place. We can avert any World War 3 if we make friends instead of enemies. These people are asking for help while they are being slaughtered. It's happening now. Do they need their own flag before they can get help from the big and powerful international community? Special ID cards with an affiliation that's clear? If we help these people out it's not only the right thing to do, but we will "win over" the people that count. One day soon maybe we won't have to worry about our flight being blown up by radicals. Let's stop being politically correct and start doing what's right. We should strike while the iron is hot and that means now. This isn't Iraq. This is more important.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. asuntanner

    As a mother of four, i watched this in horror and sobbed for these mothers and their babies crying for their daddies who will never be returned to them....Isn't it time the world community did something to help the innocent victims?!?

    February 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope

      The answer is yes, it is time, now... the sooner, the better!

      Crying with you!

      February 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BobNAlabama

    Ask those questions to the Russian and Chinese governments.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Slurry

    A lot of the reluctance on the U.S. side is predictable, election year is coming up and the very last thing the Obama administration needs is yet another war going on while trying to secure his second term. No matter who the Republicans nominate to run against him it would be political suicide to jump in and start a war with Syria right now. There's your dely, trying to find a way to aide the people without having to war against the regime, at least not openly, on the ground.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. open your eyes

    its all about the OIL. syria doesnt have any, but iran does.. one of syrias closest allies. the united states government is not in the business of being good samaritans and helping the helpless out of the kindness of our hearts. were in the busuiness of making sure the flow of oil to america does not stop and we will do anything in our power to do so.. i.e. occupy the middle east for over a decade. thats reality.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      SYRIA HAS OIL which is sold mostly to EU countries. China and Russia have invested billions in Syria's oil and related business industries.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. open your eyes

    the hardest part about getting the oil is keeping the american public happy at the same time so you can pump your gas and turn a blind eye to how its getting there.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilbitga

      America does not import oil from Syria so it has noting to do with where their gas comes from.

      February 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sticks

    I think the world is waiting for the United States to do something, so they can either condemn it, or join in. Why else would the syrians be holding up signs in English. They want help from the English speaking nations.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lilbitga

    I am horrified at Arwn Damon's irresponsible reporting in this article. She has named two places of where people are hiding in Baba Amer, enought so that Assad's forces can easily locate them. If those places are bombed or raided by Assad's forces, the blood of the people is on Arwn's hands. Please CNN edit or instruct her to censor the specifics of where she is or is reporting from. If she does not have the sense to do so herself, you should. She now ranks up there with Geraldo Rivera for stupidity in reporting. Do you seriously believe that Assad does not have people checking the American press for information? Stupid, stupid, stupid!

    February 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      I agree totally.
      I was saying the same thing a few days ago!!

      February 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hope

    The following is the index of oil production for 2012. Syria has very little Oil. There is an oil embargo against Syria by the U.S. and Europe which Assad is trying to avoid by shipping oil to Iran. Perhaps, there should be an embargo in place against Iran, as well.

    Oil – production – Country Comparison

    February 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hope

    Again, if Assad is avoiding the embargo by shipping his oil to Iran...

    Place an embargo against Iran, as well!

    February 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
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