Shades of Hama and Grozny in Homs and Idlib

A family escapes from fierce fighting in Idlib, north Syria, Saturday, March 10, 2012. Photo: Freedom House, under a Creative Commons Licence

By Henry Boyd, Research Analyst for The Military Balance

Some ten days after Syrian troops entered the Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs, at the end of a month-long assault on the district, government tanks have begun bombarding the northern town of Idlib. The onslaught on Homs by the regime of Bashar al-Assad – which has provoked widespread humanitarian concerns – had eerie parallels with that launched during the reign of Bashar’s father, Hafez, in Hama 30 years ago. Both operations took place in February, both lasted for 27 days, and both involved the use of an arsenal of heavy armour and artillery to brutalise the local population into submission.

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