Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Damascus on Tuesday and said he was willing to begin a dialogue with Syrian dissidents and also would move soon to have a referendum on a new constitution.
Meanwhile, though Syrian forces continued an assault against people in Homs, killing more people in the city of Homs, Syria’s third largest city and the center of a popular uprising. Dissidents there say they're in no mood for negotiations with Assad.
"We're not going to negotiate with the regime," said Homs resident and dissident Danny Abdul Dayem. "We're not going to negotiate over 50,000 people dead. I know they're saying 6,000, 7,000. We have mass graves everywhere. We have bodies missing. People missing. We don't know how many are in prison.
"We do not want to negotiate," he said.
The Syrian protesters, Dayem said, won't be satisfied by anything less than the fall of the Syrian regime.
Dayem said shelling has been going on for hours in his hometown. They will stop at 7 p.m. — their normal time. Dayem said shelling goes on all day, every day, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"That's the way we live now," Dayem said. "This is not a normal life."
Dayem said in addition to the shelling, venturing outside puts you at risk of being shot by a sniper merely for crossing the street. Kids as young as 8 and 9 years old know that they can't walk outside, they have to run.
"That isn't a life. A kid has to run to cross the street so he doesn't get shot by a sniper," Dayem said.
Before the current outburst of violence, Dayem said the presence of Arab League monitors had actually forced the army to lessen their attacks. But with the monitors having pulled back, violence is escalating.
"They did a big massacre three days ago," Dayem said.
Dayem said 300 people were killed their by bombardment. And that was before the United Nations' failure to authorize a security council resolution condemning the violence. This weekend, Russia and China vetoed a Western and Arab-backed UN resolution this weekend that would have condemned Assad’s crackdown on dissidents. It also would have called on him to transfer some of his powers.
That decision, or lack of decision, Dayem described as a green light for the regime to kill more people.
"The Assad army hit us for the first time with rocket launchers," he said.
The situation has gotten so desperate, at least in Dayem's eyes, he said he'd like to see "all the armies of the World" come into Syria and occupy it, if that's what it takes to dislodge Assad from power.
"Can you see what's going on now? The problem is the world isn't understanding. All those videos you're seeing on YouTube — of pieces of bodies in the street. There's already a bloodbath going on," Dayem said.