Homs continues to be pummeled by Syrian forces who shelled the city for the sixth straight day on Thursday, killing more than 30 people with rockets fired into residential neighborhoods. Activists put the total number killed since last week in the hundreds.
In a particularly chilling account, a resident of Homs named Omar Shakir called into Al-Jazerra to say that a rocket had struck a home next to his, where four families had been staying together and that he had personally seen "women in pieces." Shakir went on to plead with the anchor and the listeners for action to be taken.
"I don't know what to say. Bashar al-Assad is not human," Shakir said. "We are begging the world ... please do something."
When asked how he and his neighbors were coping with day-to-day life, Shakir responded: "When you hear the whistle of the missile ... you can't think of food, you can't think of you want to drink something... All you think is, 'Is that whistle, is that rocket coming toward my house? Am I still alive?' I just hope to stay alive." It's gotten so bad that even pro-governement areas are starting to waver as the violence continues and the economy worsens.
Meanwhile, the thrust of the diplomatic effort is being directed at Russia, who are starting to take the blame for the lack of foreign intervention. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Bashar Al-Assad on Tuesday, but his visit did nothing to quell the violence or bring Syria's government anywhere closer to peace talks. If anything, Russia's actions seem to have emboldened Assad to handle things his way, without fear of Western intervention. This latest assault began almost immediately after Russia (and China) vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution against Syria last week. Russian President Vladimir Putin says "People need to be allowed to decide their fates independently” and that calls for al-Assad to step down would be interference with that country's sovereignty.
Also this week, hackers reportedly with the group Anonymous stole Syrian government emails (using passwords like "12345") that show how al-Assad's advisers were coaching him as he prepared for an interview with Barbara Walters in December. He was told that the "American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it'."