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Historic Mosque in Syria's Homs Under Fire as Fighting Rages

  • VOA News

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks with his weapon through the damaged Khalid Ibn Al-Walid Mosque in Homs, June 30, 2013 file photo.

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks with his weapon through the damaged Khalid Ibn Al-Walid Mosque in Homs, June 30, 2013 file photo.

Intense fighting in the Syrian city of Homs appears to have further damaged a 13th century mosque, one of many Syrian historic sites to come under attack in the country's two-year conflict.

An activist video posted on the Internet showed smoke rising around the Khalid Ibn Al-Walid mosque on Sunday, as shells struck the area every few seconds and sustained gunfire could be heard. Activists have reported government attacks on the mosque as early as February 2012.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been intensifying their attacks on rebel-held districts of Homs in recent days, trying to retake full control of one of the centers of the anti-Assad rebellion. Activists said the battle has left much of the city in ruins.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday it is extremely concerned about the fate of several thousand civilians trapped by the fighting in Homs. It called for unrestricted and immediate humanitarian access to the civilians, whom it said face shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel.

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