A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.
Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.
When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.
In what Israel's Haaretz.com is referring to as a "rare move" by longtime supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, Russia and China today joined other members of the U.N. Security Council in calling on Syria to let U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos see what's happening inside that nation.
According to activists inside and outside Syria, the government's 27-day siege against the opposition stronghold of Baba Amr has now succeeded. Initial reports suggest that forces are entering this neighborhood in the city of Homs, but details are sketchy at best because most of the reporters and citizen journalists covering the story have either fled or died.
U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.
The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.