Wednesday 13 December 2017

Army shells rebel city as 60 killed in attacks across Syria

Adrian Blomfield in London

Syrian government forces appeared to be preparing for a ground assault on Homs yesterday after more than 60 people were killed in the country, many of them in one of the fiercest artillery barrages on the city in days.

Armoured columns were seen advancing on Homs, now the epicentre of the uprising against President Bashar al- Assad, in expectation of a fresh attempt to wrest control of the city from rebels.

Most of the army's fire was concentrated on the district of Baba Amr, seen as the principal stronghold of the rebel Free Syrian Army. Residents of the city said shells fell on the district at a rate of more than one a minute during the morning. At least 16 people were killed in Baba Amr, with another 10 dying elsewhere in the city.

One resident who managed to escape to the outskirts of Homs said the situation in Baba Amr was increasingly desperate, with many people lacking access to even food and water.

The Red Cross appealed for all sides in the conflict to observe a daily two-hour ceasefire, warning that the situation was becoming increasingly desperate for many families stuck in their homes.

But the regime has shown little willingness to countenance appeals for a "humanitarian pause". Amid fears that the death toll will rise rapidly if a new ground offensive on Homs is launched, Syrian opposition parties again urged the UN Security Council to "end the siege" and protect civilians.

Irish Independent

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