Syrian army raids Homs, scores killed

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, January 27, 2012

Clashes between government forces and Syrian rebels have killed dozens across the country on Friday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights updating its death toll today to 62.

Activists say Syrian forces raided the restive city of Homs, while a car bomb exploded at an army checkpoint in the northwestern town of Idlib, the Observatory said.

The Homs raid began in the Karm Al-Zeitoun neighbourhood, with the UK-based Observatory reporting 33 people killed in Syria's third-largest city, 160 kilometers north of the capital.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), which organize protests on the ground, said that by Friday regime forces had pounded the Bab Seba neighbourhood with heavy artillery and rocket fire. Fighting was also heard in Baba Amro district.

The LCC said three people were killed early Friday in Homs and said two more were killed in Idlib province in the northwest and one in the Damascus suburbs.

The Observatory said another flashpoint central city, Hama, also came under assault in the early hours of Friday, with intense firing from heavy machineguns and loud explosions heard.

In the outskirts of Damascus, an 11-year-old boy was killed at a checkpoint in Hamuriyeh, the Observatory said, and in Aleppo, the country's second-biggest city, two civilians were killed when security forces "fired indiscriminately."

And a car bomb hit a security checkpoint at the entrance to Idlib, the Observatory said, killing and wounding an unknown number of security people.

The attack comes less than a week after a roadside bomb killed 11 detainees being transported in a Syrian prison truck in Idlib province.

In a further development, armed Syrian rebels claimed on Thursday they captured five Iranians they accuse of being military officers working with the regime.

The Free Syrian Army broadcast a YouTube video showing five men holding up what appeared to be Iranian passports.

Iran denied the captured Iranians were military officers, but were rather pilgrims en route to the Syrian capital.

"According to our information, 11 Iranian pilgrims traveling by road to Damascus were kidnapped by an unknown group," said ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.

"We call on the Syrian government to use all means ... to release the Iranian nationals," he said.

Syria, meanwhile, buried 21 security personnel killed in clashes with rebels throughout the country on Friday, the official news agency, SANA, reported.

The Syrian regime is battling an armed rebellion in the country it says is backed by foreign powers, alleging at least 2,000 security members have been killed in the 10-month-uprising.

The UN says at least 5,000 people have died, but this week conceded it was struggling to keep up with the death toll.

The turmoil in Syria is showing no signs of abating as world powers argue over how to resolve the crisis.

A joint Western-Gulf Arab draft UN Security Council resolution was shot down by Russia on Friday, which insisted on its own plan and demanded its principles be included in a final resolution.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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