Powerful explosions and artillery bursts continue to wrack the Syrian city of Homs in what the UN has called an unprecedented escalation in violence. RT correspondent Maria Finoshina described the situation on the ground as a “destructive nightmare.”
Opposition groups said the city of Homs was facing the heaviest shelling in over a month amid reports of tank fire, rockets and mortars targeting the neighborhoods of Jouret al-Shayyah, al-Khalidiyeh and Karam Shamsham.
Local broadcasters showed videos in which loud explosions – as well as heavy gunfire – could be heard. A series of large explosions peppered the skyline as shells appeared to strike buildings, AP reported.
“It looks surreal, one part of the city is absolutely destroyed, and the other looks untouched, and you can see the border,” RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from Homs.
“There’s a clear border between the calm districts and the districts with the military action,” she added.
The opposition blames government forces for the latest onslaught, though the authenticity of the footage cannot be verified.
RT’s correspondent reported from Baba Amr that this“district of the city [Homs] is destroyed, many buildings are ruined, people left the neighborhood.”
She also said that the fighting is underway in Al Sultania district, where the TV crew heard heavy artillery.
“This is fighting between the two armies,” Maria Finoshina said.
“There are ambulances at the border of the area where there is fighting and when it’s lull – they go there to pick up the wounded,” she added.“There’s no house that doesn’t bare the sign of fighting.”
The reported escalation of violence comes a day after UN observers attempted to visit the conflict torn city.
The head of UN monitors in Syria, Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, told reporters that the violence in Syria had reached an “unprecedented level,” adding that this obstructed their ability to “observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue."
His comments come ahead of a UN decision on the future of the mission as the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria’s (UNSMIS) three months-mandate ends on July 20. UNSMIS is expected to meet"over the next days and weeks" make a decision on their activity in the region.
Mood did not rule out that the mission may stay.
“So it is time to stop spreading ourselves out too thin and restructure in a way that will allow us, once we resume our activities, to conduct targeted tasks that require longer periods of stay in particular areas," he said.
Anti-government forces claim at least 25 civilians have died across Syria on Tuesday, with the Syrian National Council claiming up to 800 people have been killed over past week.
The group also estimates the overall toll of the conflict at 14,000 people.