Sun, Feb 12, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Death toll mounts as Syrian forces intensify attacks

Reuters, AFP and AP,Amman, Damascus and Longmont, Colorado

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces killed at least four civilians in an intensified tank and rocket bombardment on opposition districts in the Syrian city of Homs yesterday to put down a popular revolt demanding his removal, activists said.

“This is the most violent barrage since the attack on Homs started six days ago. The four included a 55-year old woman. They were killed by shelling that hit a building where they live in Bab Amro,” opposition activist Mohammad Hassan said by satelite phone from Homs.

The account could not be independently confirmed. Syria restricts access by most foreign journalists.

Footage on YouTube showed a doctor at a field hospital in Bab Amro next to the body of the woman, who appeared to have been hit in the head.

“This is Ibtissam al-Dalati, mother of three. Shrapnel hit her in the head,” the doctor says, holding the woman’s fractured and bloody head. “I call upon all Syrians to take to the streets to take the pressure off Homs.”

On Friday, twin car bombs targeting security posts in Syria’s second city of Aleppo killed at least 28 people, state media said, with the rebels accusing the regime of launching the attacks as a diversion.

The explosions came as tank-backed troops advanced on pockets of resistance in the besieged protest hub of Homs, as heavy security deployments nationwide thwarted planned protests against regime ally Russia.

The powerful mid-morning blasts in the northern commercial hub also wounded 235 people, said state TV, which broadcast gruesome footage.

Mangled bodies were shown in pools of blood outside rows of shattered buildings and piles of rubble strewn across an avenue.

State TV called the bombings, the first in Aleppo since the uprising against al-Assad’s regime erupted almost a year ago, the work of “armed terrorist gangs.”

The rebel Free Syrian Army blamed the government itself for the attacks.

“This criminal regime is carrying out bomb attacks in Aleppo to steer attention away from what it is doing in Homs, Zabadani and elsewhere,” its spokesman, Colonel Maher Nouaimi, said in a telephone interview.

Meanwhile, satellite image provider DigitalGlobe Inc released photos on Friday that appear to show Syrian army tanks and armored vehicles in Homs.

DigitalGlobe said the images were taken late Friday morning by the company’s WorldView 2 satellite from about 772km above the Earth. The satellite images show an increase in the level of army activity in and around Homs from the previous 24 hours.

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