February 21st, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Inside Syria: 'I can guarantee ... people will starve to death'

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon recently spent some time in 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 more than two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.

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

Virtually no food has come into Baba Amr since the shelling began more than two weeks ago, activists say. So, the residents who are gathered in makeshift bunkers collect what food they can find there and carefully ration it - though those supplies are running out.

Some of what they’ve gathered comes from, among other places, stores that have been hit by artillery fire.

“We take the products to distribute so they don’t go to waste. We keep track of everything we took to reimburse the owners,” an activist says.

In hard-hit Baba Amr, hundreds live in makeshift shelters, having left their homes out of necessity - many have been destroyed - or fear. Navigating the rubble-strewn streets of Baba Amr is made more difficult, activists say, by frequent shelling by government forces and by government snipers. Under cover of darkness, teams head to stores to gather what little supplies are left, quickly loading lentils, diapers and cracked wheat into vehicles.

At one of the shelters, a woman shows off the dwindling food supply.

“There is no food. There is only cracked wheat and rice,” she said.

Another woman, who is at the shelter because her home was destroyed, volunteers at a medical clinic in the neighborhood. She said she had coffee and two cigarettes for the day, and nothing for two days before that.

“I can guarantee you this, people will starve to death," she said.

Baba Amr has been "completely cut off and services are pretty much nonexistent," Dima Moussa, a Chicago lawyer and a Syrian opposition activist, told CNN on Tuesday.

"Communicating with the activists in the area is becoming harder, so getting complete information about casualties is becoming difficult, and we think that the numbers far exceed those that we have been reporting, since we're only reporting those that we can confirm," she said.

The neighborhood has been "completely cut off and services are pretty much nonexistent," Moussa said.

Al-Assad has denied reports that his forces are targeting civilians, saying they are fighting armed gangs and foreign fighters bent on destabilizing the government. But many accounts inside the country say Syrian forces are killing civilians as part of a crackdown on anti-government opposition.

More detailed coverage of what's happening in Syria:

Monday, February 20: 'What is the world waiting for? For us to die of hunger and fear?'

Saturday, February 18: Residents bracing for the worst in Homs

Friday, February 17: Syrian protesters hail 'resistance'

Friday, February 17: In one Syrian town, full-throated cries of defiance

Thursday, February 16: Farmers, teachers, carpenters armed with rifles fear massacre

Thursday, February 16: Wounds ooze, doctors cry in Syrian city

Wednesday, February 15: Activists say trying to flee from homes under attack is virtually a suicide run

Tuesday, February 14: Fearful residents prepare for a bloody battle

soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. donjoy

    If we send them money the regime will take it,the same if we send food.I think the un aught to grow some verillas and tell china and russia to have themselves spade or nutered then send help like libbya.we call ourselves a modernized culture but as said(technolagy may change but man will never change).go to garnertedarmstrong and you can read the news they don't tell you.now cnn I believe blocked my last opinion cause the truth hurts.so much for freedom of speech and opinion but that's ok. as one can see,I don't swear,I don't intentionaly lie, i just tell it as I understand it.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andrey

    Americans should stop worrying about other people loving or hating them. It is time to use more rational approach.
    If you want to rescue somebody from starvation – pick a peaceful country for that. You will get much more bang for the buck – and there will be no negative consequences. So the civil war in Syria – is the exactly the reason not to go there, not to touch it with even with a very long stick! Focus your efforts somewhere you can make a difference! Unfortunately there is lots of choice for that! Do not sponsor civil wars!

    February 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leila

      that is so ignorant of you , just imagine if it was the US in this position would you like for people to ignore you just like you are saying for them to do in Syria

      February 22, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Factors

      So, why is it we're not in Syria bombing the heck out of them. Couldn't be that China and Russia are supporting them, could it? Or, maybe the budget won't allow it?
      Hmmmm, selective warmongering?

      February 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wolf Daddy Deluxe 5000


    February 22, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Name*stjameson

    Its a cruel world we live in. The middle east is out of control all the time. Its been that way as long as I can remember and I'm 53. They are a different breed over there. They have been throwing the same rocks at each other for 1000s of years'. Leave them be. They will work it out. If we get involved we already know what the outcome will be. They hate us now and they will hate us afterwards.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    I just watched the video of a little baby boy dying on camera that video was shown on AC360. What are we waiting for? At first I was resistant to even think about sending our troops into another country and solve their problems but after watching the video of that innocent baby boy dying. Saddle up boys! Let's roll!! Obama give the word and let's get to work!

    February 22, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Randle

      Iranian warships which came to Tartus, Syria last week are heading back with prisoners from Syria to Iran.
      some 89,789 detainee are shipped to Iran
      Someone need to inspect those ships

      February 22, 2012 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. ma & pa

    Assad... dictator first, secular second. Arab spring shakes up governments in power but could lead to al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood or worse in power further down the line. Democratic secular governance could end Theocratic sect mob rule genocide before it begins. No fighting along religious sect hatred lines allowed. But all some sects know how to do is hate and kill each other ("slay the infidel" even your own) instead of finding shared peaceful beliefs to save themselves. Many in world knew that Homs people shared peaceful beliefs and now they're getting hit bad. Schemers would harm the more reasonable people and make mommies and babies cry, to make heros rush to their defense. What alliances would like to weary and weaken the free world even more? The situation looks somewhat like a trap baited with the real suffering of the helpless innocents. Beware of pushing for military intervention by us and know the real instigators. Where is al Qaeda digging in enclaves? Where are Iranian warships now on "peaceful" maneuvers and what is between those ships and Iran? What if those countries threw a (war)party and nobody came? And, why do the muslim countries not (that we hear of) attempt to stop the perpetrators of the suffering if peace rather than brutality has any value to them? Looks like a trap that everybody's "feet of clay" need to stay away from. Moves too near "midnight" could tumble the Jackstraw construct.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. ma & pa

    The horrors these civilians suffer makes us sick. Everyone should stop this evilness and get back to living. No good is gained by killing children and those who see past indoctrination and want those power games stopped. Words of wisdom should be enough to stop this. Can't anyone think or is this where "slay the infidel" splashes worldwide?

    February 22, 2012 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. whosurdaddy

    Another day in America another country to bomb, nothing new.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. msfaye2u

    these same people turned their heads when the rebels were killing the people in Rwanda. no one cared and they don't care now about Darfur but these same people are screaming for the west to help them. we are starving, they are killing us, please put your a– on the line and come and help us. i don't feel one ounce of sympathy for them. they knew what was going to happen and it did and they have to suffer the consequences of change. they can't start a fight then when they are getting beat down they want to run into the house and get their brother to fight their fight for them. remember 100's of thousands were killed in Rwanda and Clinton did nothing. didn't seem to bother syria to much as long as they had food, a house to live in, and it was "those people".

    February 22, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
    • marky mark

      Syria is not capable of fighting very far from its borders. The US, NATO, Russia can. Did they?

      July 26, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Patrick a.

    "We take the products to distribute so they don’t go to waste. We keep track of everything we took to reimburse the owners,” an activist says.

    Isn,t this nice,if I didn,t know any better I would these were saints.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • marky mark

      @ Patrick a – Just because you dont have that type of decency doesn't mean others don't.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. ma & pa

    As for you who have been quoting "let them eat cake", we hope you know what you're really saying. French revolution: A leader was greatly distressed upon hearing that the people were without food. She told an employee, who coveted her power, to let the hungry have bread from her reserves of provisions because it hurt her to see her people hungry. The tracherous employee passed the word that they should eat nonexistent dainties, enraging rather than feeding them. They killed their caring leader. They should have stopped and rethought. Or maybe she, herself, should have told the people they could share her food, but she was stressed then and not expecting tracherous acts from that employee.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. ma & pa

    A nagging thought in the middle of the night when we should better be resting. How many 'lectric puppeteers of the last 20 years of suffering are enclaved comfortably, unsuspected, in the upper midwest U.S.? ronsIr, ehnHo, hlKo and woodGate for sure.

    February 22, 2012 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. hope

    Israel may be ready to make a move to free the people of Homs. It won't take them long. They're right next door. Smart move, in my opinion... doing the right thing.

    God be with them...

    February 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. aldo

    The comments are beyond belief. I feel so sad for the Syrian tragedy, but now I feel even sadder for the American people. I can't understand how this is possible. How can love vanish so completely?

    September 9, 2013 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
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