Damascus: Syrian forces killed over 100 civilians as they blitzed the city of Homs and a village in Idlib province, monitors said, as the United States expressed support for a humanitarian ceasefire proposed by the Red Cross.
In the most significant incident, at least 33 people were
killed yesterday in the village of Abdita in the northwestern
province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Another 31 were killed in Homs province, including 21
people who died in "intensive shelling" that targeted Homs
city`s Baba Amr neighbourhood, with the Khaldiyeh and Karm
al-Zaytoun districts also blasted.
And despite a plea by activists to allow women and children to flee Homs` besieged Baba Amr neighbourhood, more
troops were sent to the outskirts of the restive city, with
activists expressing fear they were preparing to storm it.
Homs-based activist Hadi Abdullah of the General
Commission of the Syrian Revolution said "large reinforcements were heading to Homs."
"We counted at least 150 shells crashing in Baba Amr within two hours this morning. We gave up counting
afterwards," he said.
Omar Shaker, another activist, said the neighbourhood
had "no electricity, nor fuel," and that "snipers have hit
water tanks," rendering the situation "bad beyond
Human Rights Watch emergency director Peter Bouckaert told
that the watchdog had confirmed the use of Russian-made 240 mm
mortars in Homs, which has been under assault for 18 days.
"We have little doubt that those extremely powerful
mortars are being fired by the regime forces into civilian
neighborhoods of Homs. We are talking about a 250-pound mortar
round that can only be fired from a heavy specialised armoured
vehicle and it requires a nine person crew to operate," he
The death toll nor the reports of shelling could not be verified, as foreign reporters are given only limited access within the country.
Security forces also opened fire to disperse a sit-in by
2,500 students at the University of Aleppo, the northern city
that until recently been spared anti-regime demonstrations.
And secular groups demonstrated outside parliament against
an article in the draft constitution that would require the
president to be a Muslim.
The International Committee of the Red Cross called for a
daily truce of two hours in Syria so it can deliver vital aid
to afflicted areas, after saying a day earlier it was in talks
with both sides to halt the violence.