Syrian Army Pounds Homs

Shops and homes are seen after they were destroyed by Syrian government shelling in Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria, March 20, 2012.
Shops and homes are seen after they were destroyed by Syrian government shelling in Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria, March 20, 2012.

Activists say Syrian forces resumed heavy shelling of the already battered city of Homs on Saturday, as international envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Russia to discuss efforts to mediate an end to the crisis in Syria.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least three people were killed in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs and nearby town of Qusair following shelling that began early Saturday.  Homs has seen some of the heaviest fighting in Syria's year-long uprising.

Clashes were also reported in Idlib province bordering Turkey, where the rights group says at least one person was killed.

Syria Peace Plan

The U.N. Security Council approved U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria Kofi Annan's proposed peace plan that includes:

  • An immediate cease-fire and an end to all human rights violations
  • A two-hour per day halt in fighting for humanitarian aid delivery
  • Inclusive Syrian-led political talks to address "legitimate aspirations and concerns" of the Syrian people

Saturday's violence comes as joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Moscow in an effort to convince Russia to support international calls for a cease-fire and open political dialogue in Syria.  Russia and China have repeatedly blocked Security Council action against Syria since the deadly crackdowns on protests erupted. However, the two nations did support a Security Council resolution in recent days endorsing Annan's six-point plan for peace.

Annan will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, and will then travel to Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Chinese officials for similar discussions.

On Friday, the European Union imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's British-born wife and several other members of his family and administration.

The sanctions on Mrs. Assad came after leaked emails showed she allegedly went on lavish shopping sprees while Syria descended into violence. British officials say the EU travel ban can not stop the Syrian first lady from traveling to Britain if she has retained her citizenship.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva sharply condemned Syria's "escalating violence", calling for an extension of a probe into the Syrian government's alleged abuses in the year of unrest.  The 47-member body voted 41 to three in favor of an EU-sponsored resolution backed by the United States and Arab countries. China, Russia and Cuba voted against the measure.

In Washington, the Obama administration said it will allow Syrians in the country to remain, even after their visas have expired, and not deport those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Reported deaths in violence across Syria

The United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Assad government's violent crackdown on the revolt, which began with peaceful protests and became increasingly militarized as army defectors attacked pro-Assad troops who assaulted civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
March 25, 2012 7:11 AM

by: C Ritchie
March 24, 2012 11:48 PM
Assad is a monster. So was Saddam Hussein. And Gaddafi, The world is becoming increasingly intolerant of these vicious, selfish regimes. May their dreadful leaders all suffer a similar fate. No one, apart from their rabid supporters, wants this type of person to have power.

by: Jacki
March 24, 2012 11:26 PM
The Assad family are more trusted that the mob trying to overthrow him. They are a bunch of extremists, whom the majority of Syrians do NOT support. Syrians living in Syria actually support President Assad, and the fact remains that the "New Syrian Army" has very little backing with syrians, as syrians know they are EXtremists

by: jah son
March 24, 2012 6:47 AM
there will always be voilence in the middle east untill all women are free and all arab/moslem countries adapt a democracy instead of one man autrocratic rule, stop allowing the rulers to have all the wealth and give it to their sons and daughters and have large harems and lusch villas while the people around them starve and bowdown to worship muhamid um-teen times a day like robots.

by: Arash Wafa
March 24, 2012 6:06 AM
I appreciate the government of Syria to attack Rebel
because these Rebels are a pillars to USA

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