• Syrian Army Assault Kills More Than 100 Civilians: Watchdog


    BEIRUT, Jan 17, 2013 (AFP) – A Syrian army assault killed more than 100 civilians, including women and children, on farmland on the outskirts of the central city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday.

    It said the attack took place on Tuesday.

    “The Syrian regime carried out a new massacre on Tuesday claiming 106 victims, including women and children,” in an assault lasting 24 hours around Homs, said the watchdog which relies on a network of activists and medics.

    The killings took place in farmlands in an area between a military academy, an army checkpoint and an industrial district north of Homs, the Britain-based Observatory said.

    The Observatory said the area had become a refuge for around 1,000 people who fled fighting in the city of Homs, where regime forces and rebels have been battling for dominance for months.

    It quoted witnesses as saying that among those killed were families who died in fires that raged through their homes and others — including three children from a group of 14 family members — killed in cold blood.

    At least 32 other members of one clan were shot dead, the Observatory said, adding however that it was not immediately able to establish their identities.

    Meanwhile the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper reported that troops had gained ground against “gunmen” around Homs, referring to rebels fighting the regime. The claim was denied by militants on the ground.

    Homs, dubbed “the capital of the revolution” by the rebels, is the largest and most strategic city in Syria, lying on key trade routes near the borders with Lebanon and Iraq, and with its southwestern areas not far from Damascus.

    The Observatory urged the UN to send a fact-finding team to probe the latest killings.

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