Syria: why the hate for Homs?

I’ve been following news of the uprising in Syria, and one thing that strikes me about it is that the Syrian government’s crackdown in Homs seems to be approaching genocidal levels – it looks like they’re trying to wipe the city off the map. Why? Is there an ethnic or religous minority that’s concentrated in that city, and the Assad regiem is using the uprising as an excuse to do some “cleansing”?

My first thought was that maybe Homs is a Kurdish city, but a quick check of Wikipedia shows that Homs is near Lebanon, which I’m pretty sure is the wrong part of the country for it to have many Kurds. The Wiki page about Homs doesn’t give me any clues as to why this particular city should be targeted so agressively. Can anyone explain what’s going on over there?

Homs has been the center of the recent uprising, and the gathering place for many
of the revolutionary leaders. That’s why the government is focussing on it.

As far as why Homs has become that location, my best guess is that it should have to do with it being a major educationa lcenter in Syria. There’s a larger university in Damascus, but perhaps the student body is better controlled in the seat of goverment.

Another item, although I’m not sure how this realtes to Homs - a lot of these middle east problems are actually ethnic/sectarian. Like the Sunni-Shiite problem in Iraq, there is also a Sunni-Shiite-Alawite divide in Syria. Assad is Alawaite IIRC and being a distinct minority, his group has to be very careful not to let the majority get the upper hand after repressing them for so long. According to Wiki, Shiites are 13% of the Syrian people and Alawites a minority of those. Much of the army officers and prominent business people, logically, are also Alawite/Shia and have prospered under Hassad Jr and Sr. Plus, Christians have done well in Syria and are uncomfortable with the idea of a Sunni takeover.

It’s not that they hate Homs, it’s just the most uppity of the cities right now. Gotta put it in its place.

Assad Sr. similarly massacred tens of thousands of men women and children back in the 1980’s (Hama, that time - terribly unimaginative city names?) and obviously Junior sees no reason to mess with a good strategy.

Especially since it seems to be working – so far, the rest of the world has been content to stand back and watch, while occasionally mumbling “Don’t Do That” under their breath. :frowning: