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Silent Stalemate on the Streets of Homs as Rebel and Regime Snipers Face-off

September 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
Syrian rebels forces and Assad regime troops wage battle silently from a hidden front line, as the use of snipers have made any movement a fatal action. Homs, the city where the Syrian uprising began, is at stalemate. Independent Television News' Bill Neely reports.
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GWEN IFILL: And we turn to Syria spiraling deeper into civil war.

Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi briefed the U.N. Security Council today for the first time since taking on his post. He said the situation is bad and getting worse.

We have an on-the-ground look at the conflict from Bill Neely of Independent Television News. He reports from the city of Homs.

BILL NEELY: He is ready to kill. A Syrian army sniper aims through a crack in the wall. This is the hidden front line. From their firing point, they target rebel positions just 50 yards away.

Every day, men die here. This is Homs, the heart of the war, and here it is stalemate. The streets here are so deadly, we move through holes in walls and houses up to near darkness and another sniper. He waits in total silence.

(GUNFIRE)

BILL NEELY: It’s never quiet for long. These Syrian troops are trying to take back whole districts the rebels have held for months. They are edgy. The rebels killed five of their men just hours earlier.

So, in Homs, they run for their lives, and we do too. They have been doing it for longer than they ever expected.

Why is the war lasting so long?

MAN: It will be continuing months, today, one year. We don’t know. We don’t know.

I’m ready to die, and all these persons ready to die for Syria.

BILL NEELY: One-and-a-half years after it began, and the battle for this city and for Syria grinds on relentlessly. The bombardment of Homs, the war here is as intense as ever.

These soldiers say they have the rebels trapped in this area and that the battle will be over soon.

Whole neighborhoods here are a wasteland, the signs of battle on every building. Few civilians remain. It’s almost a shock to see them.

In your heart, when you see your area like this…

SALEH SHATTOUR, Syria: Well, I have no heart at all. Can you imagine this loss –I feel very sorry for what has happened.

BILL NEELY: How long will this go on for here?

SALEH SHATTOUR: I don’t know. God alone knows. God alone knows.

BILL NEELY: The war here is almost macabre. Bizarrely, a mannequin marks the deadliest junction. But few places here are safe for anyone.

So, as world leaders at the United Nations begin to talk again of Syria deadlocked in disagreement, the snipers on both sides take their positions, death on their minds, victory in their sights.