HOMS, Syria, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Syria has begun an offensive to retake Homs as armed defectors fight government efforts to seize the third-largest city in Syria, analysts in Syria say.
Homs has been among the cities most resistant to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, with the territory becoming an urban battleground hanging on the edge of outright civil war, The New York Times said Monday.
Activists allege government forces have killed 111 people in five days, with shortages and lawlessness perpetrated by paramilitary troops and government soldiers accompanying the violence.
Analysts contend the escalation of the conflict resulted from the foundering of mediation by the Arab League, additional indications the Syrian government intends to quash dissent by force and the success of Homs as a symbol of fighting the power.
"Homs is a turning point for now," said an analyst based in Damascus who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. "It's a successful model of self-defense, if you will, at a time when you really can't expect people to take anymore. They've seen too many corpses come back, too many people arrested, disappeared or returned after abominable treatment. It's too much. And everybody seems to be losing control of the street."
The Arab League called a crisis meeting Saturday on Syria's failure to abide by its peace plan amid reports that at least 15 activists were killed on the Muslim holy day, Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called for the meeting because of "the continuation of violence and because the Syrian government did not implement its commitments in the Arab plan to resolve the Syrian crisis," Egypt's publicly funded Middle East News Agency reported.
"If Syria does not respect its commitments, the [Arab] ministerial committee will meet again and take the necessary decisions," Hamad said.
Sunday's deaths -- with at least 10 reported in Homs -- came as demonstrations in support of Homs dissidents and against the Assad regime were staged across the country on the first day of the Muslim feast observing the end of the Hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Sunday was the fourth straight day of deadly violence since Syria agreed to an Arab League peace plan to end nearly eight months of bloodshed.
The United Nations says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began with protests Jan. 26 and escalated into an uprising March 15, inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions that toppled three Arab leaders.
Syrian authorities blame arms smugglers, "terrorists" and "armed gangs" for killing civilians and more than 1,100 security-force members.