Troops pound Homs, 34 killed in Syria


Syrian forces pounded Homs on Monday as they pressed their campaign against rebel strongholds in the city, while 34 people were killed across the strife-torn country, a watchdog said.
Monday’s casualties come a day after 67 people were killed nationwide, including 15 in Homs province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Shelling and shooting renewed in Homs city, with explosions heard in the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood,” the Britain-based monitoring group said.
“Regime forces trying to enter Khaldiyeh and other neighbourhoods are facing fierce resistance from rebel fighters,” it added. Four rebels, including a dissident sergeant, were killed in Homs province by regime forces in the town of Qusayr near the Lebanon-Syria border, and a civilian died in shelling in the town of Rastan, the Observatory said.
And in Deir Ezzor, six people, including two rebel commanders, were killed in an explosion in Mohassan town. Clashes and shelling continued through the night in several areas of Damascus province, including the towns of Douma and Qoudsaya, which have been pounded by regime forces for the past five days.
Six people — including two children — were killed in Douma, the Observatory said. The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), grouping opposition activists on the ground, said Qoudsaya was shelled heavily, and that snipers were firing at anything that moved.
Fares Mohamed, an LCC member in Zabadani northwest of Damascus, told AFP by email that Syrian forces had “imposed a suffocating blockade” around Qoudsaya and a nearby town. He said the shelling began after an anti-regime demonstration in Qoudsaya. Mohamed said “huge military reinforcements” had arrived and that the wounded could not be treated because the shelling and sniper fire was so intense.
The Observatory reported one person killed in a blast in Damascus province, while in the southern province of Daraa, one civilian was reported killed overnight as rebels clashed with the army in the Al-Lajat area. Another civilian was killed in Tafas as regime forces stormed the town.
And in central Hama province, two young sisters were killed when Qalaa Al-Madiq was shelled before dawn, the Observatory said. Another civilian was shot dead at a regime checkpoint, it added. In the northern province of Aleppo, unidentified gunmen killed a woman on Monday morning, the Observatory said. Regime forces backed by aircraft also pounded for more than seven hours overnight a region known as the Kurdish Mountain in the northwest province of Latakia, forcing many residents to flee, the watchdog said.
One civilian was also shot dead in the coastal province. Nine regime troops were killed during the night and on Monday morning, in clashes with rebels, the Observatory said. The rising violence prompted UN observers to suspend their monitoring mission at the weekend.
More than 14,400 people have died in the 16-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to Observatory figures.