Syrian army deploys 1,500 tanks around protest cities, storms Homs

Thursday, July 21, Syria’s entire operational fleet of 1,500 tanks has been deployed to surround the country’s most active anti-Assad protest cities such as Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zour, Abu Kamal and the big Damascus suburb of Harasta. That evening, the tanks roared into the town of Homs, shelling densely populated districts at random, causing many casualties and burning buildings.

Five months into the uprising, the army no longer dares enter flashpoint cities except in large contingents backed by heavy armor and live fire.

debkafile’s military sources report that Syrian army bases have been emptied of all servicable tanks in support of another desperate attempt by Syrian President Bashar Assad to crush the long uprising against his rule. This makes him the first Middle East leader ever to hurl an entire tank force against a rebellious population.

Left in the hangars are about 2,000 iron vehicles in poor condition.

According to our military sources, Assad resorted to this extreme measure because the big cities are out of control. Army commanders know that even a tank force entering a town will run the gauntlet of live fire and roadblocks which force the soldiers to fight their way through.

In the western town of Homs, Syria’s third largest city and its biggest industrial center, with a population of 1.7 million, four Sunni neighborhoods have set up armed militias ready to shoot to keep the army out. As Sunnis, they are not just fighting the Assad regime but also his Alawite Shabiba militia.

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