Obama calls Syria violence ‘outrageous’ as Assad troops move in on Homs (VIDEO)

GlobalPost

President Barack Obama has accused Syria's government of propagating "outrageous" bloodshed against its own people, as forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad reportedly sealed off the rebel epicenter of Homs and launched air and ground attacks.

Soldiers loyal to Assad's regime also launched a house-to-house sweep of the city to crush opponents, London's Telegraph cited activists as saying.

According to Reuters, the rebels — a loosely grouped fighting force calling itself the Free Syrian Army — expressed foreboding that the tank reinforcements signaled a major push into Homs by Assad's forces.

"The tanks entered the neighborhood of Inshaat overnight" Thursday, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the Telegraph, adding that troops were still deploying to the area early Friday.

The Guardian cited eyewitnesses as saying that roads in and out of the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr were blocked, preventing the evacuation of children and the wounded, as food, water and medicine ran out.

It was the sixth-straight day of attacks on the city, with troops using tanks, helicopters and artillery.

(GlobalPost reports: Syria: Homs violence escalates on fifth day)

Explosions had also hit the normally peaceful city of Aleppo in the north, "fueling fears the country would descend into all-out civil war."

VOA cited Syrian state television as reporting that at least two explosions have hit the northern city of Aleppo Friday, causing caused an unspecified number of casualties including civilian and military personnel.

Reuters wrote that Assad," bolstered by Russian support," is pushing ahead with the assaults despite appeals from other Western and Arab leaders to halt the violence. Russia has said that no one should interfere in the country's affairs.

At the same time as Western nations have ruled out a military response to the violence, the international community appeared to "flounder over a coherent response," the Guardian wrote.

"The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned the Russian and Chinese veto of a security council resolution on the crisis over the weekend as 'disastrous for the Syrian people.' He said the failure to agree on collective action had 'encouraged the Syrian government to step up its war on its own people.'"

Obama, meantime, speaking at the White House, said: "We both have a great interest in ending the outrageous bloodshed that we've seen and see a transition from the current government that has been assaulting its people."

The Guardian also quoted the British prime minister, David Cameron, as saying: "It is quite clear this is a regime hell-bent on killing, murdering and maiming its own citizens … we need to take the toughest possible response we can."

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton criticized Russia over its veto, Reuters reported, quoting her as saying: "My message to my Russian colleagues is that they too need to recognize the reality of the situation on the ground and we can't go on simply allowing this to happen."  

(GlobalPost reports: Why Russia stands by Syria)

The Arab League, which suspended its monitoring mission in Syria last month, is scheduled to discuss a proposal to send a joint UN-Arab mission to Syria in Cairo on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.