Syria`s Assad offers vote, tanks shell rebel areas

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad offered on Wednesday to hold multi-party elections within four months.

Last Updated: Feb 16, 2012, 00:03 AM IST

Amman/Beirut: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad offered on Wednesday to hold multi-party elections within four months, while his troops assaulted city districts held by rebels trying to oust him.

Under world pressure to end a crackdown that has cost at least 6,000 lives, Assad promised a referendum in two weeks` time on a new constitution leading to elections within 90 days.

Opposition figures spurned the offer and the United States called it "laughable."

And Assad made clear he was still intent on crushing the uprising with tanks and troops.

The military unleashed a new offensive in Hama, a city with a bloody history of resistance to Assad`s late father, Hafez al-Assad, firing at residential neighborhoods with anti-aircraft guns mounted on armored vehicles, opposition activists said.

Artillery also shelled parts of Homs for the 13th day in a row. In Damascus, troops backed by armor swept into the Barzeh district, searching houses and making arrests, witnesses said.

Bureau Report