Also in Homs, militiamen loyal to Assad killed 14 members of a Sunni family on Thursday in one of the grizzliest sectarian attacks of the uprising, activists and residents said.
Eight children, aged eight months to nine years old, were among 14 Bahader family members shot or hacked to death in a building in the mixed Karm al-Zeitoun neighborhood, they said.
The militiamen, known as shabbiha, entered the district after loyalist forces fired heavy mortar rounds on the area, killing another 16 people, residents and activists in the city said.
Tit-for-tat sectarian killings began in Homs, 140km north of Damascus, four months ago, following armored military assaults on Sunni areas of the city by forces led by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.
The killings have raised the prospect of the pro-democracy protest movement against al-Assad turning into a civil war, as his opponents take up arms and fight back against loyalist forces.
The Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, has dominated politics and the security apparatus in Syria, a mostly Sunni country of 20 million people, for the last five decades.