Screen grab of the wall cutting Baba Amr off from the rest of Homs.
Curfews, shelling, snipers…. More than a year into a deadly crackdown on anti-government protests in Syria, residents of the Baba Amr neighbourhood in the city of Homs thought they had seen it all. Recently, however, Syrian security forces have cobbled together a new method aimed at isolating the city’s most restive neighbourhood: a concrete wall.
Our Observers in Homs have helped us to trace the parametres of the wall and the various military checkpoints throughout the city in the satellite image seen below.
Baba Amr is highlighted in red. The wall is marked out with a black line. In the image, it is clear the wall does not run exclusively along the border of Baba Amr. According to our Observers, this is because it was easier for security forces to build the barrier along a straight line. The red dots indicate military checkpoints.
Our Observers report that the wall is around three metres high and is nearly two kilometres [1.24 miles] long.
The UN estimates Syria's crisis has left at least 9,000 people dead.
"It was impossible to go near the wall while it was being built"
Saleem Kabbani is an activist in Homs. He passed by the wall just a few days ago.
The army and security forces began building the wall one week after the final siege on Baba Amr [the neighbourhood was taken over by the military on March 1]. Construction took about a month. It was impossible to go near the wall while it was being built [in the video above, the person filming says that it is the first time he is able to get close enough to the wall to record it]. I was only able to take one photo of it from a far.Photo taken by our Observer. The wall can be seen in the distance.According to what people have told me, there are only a few hours a day when the residents in Baba Amr can go out to do shopping or run errands. I think the wall was designed to isolate them even more from the rest of the city, but the majority of residents have fled the area, so I don’t think it’s the only reason why it was built. Above all, the wall allows the authorities to counter any move made by the Free Syrian Army [The Free Syrian Army, which is made up of rebel fighters, is still primarily based in Baba Amr, but is more or less inactive since the neighbourhood was overrun by government security forces in March]. In the unlikely event that the Free Syrian Army retakes the neighbourhood, the wall would prevent them from operating in other parts of Homs.People in Homs were shocked by the wall’s symbolic meaning. It feels as though our own government has become an occupying force.
The wall under construction.
The same location, once construction of the wall was completed.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira.