Thursday, October 23, 2014
   
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Syria crisis: Army steps up shelling in Homs

Heavy artillery fire has been rocking Homs, as Syrian troops step up an assault on the restive city.

A BBC correspondent there says attacks resumed early on Monday with almost constant explosions.

Rebels say a clinic is being targeted in one of the fiercest assaults on the city in the 11-month uprising.

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been angered by Russia and China's decision to veto a UN resolution criticising Damascus.

The BBC's Paul Wood, who managed to get into Homs, says shelling resumed there at 06:00 (04:00 GMT).

Some rebels fighters are firing automatic weapons in return, in what our correspondent calls a futile gesture.

He says it is impossible to verify claims that a field clinic run by the rebels is being targeted by government forces.

The facility is treating dozens of people wounded in previous assaults on Homs.

An anti-government campaigner told the BBC the government was also using helicopters and tanks in the assault.

Fifteen people killed are said to have been killed so far on Monday.

Our correspondent says the dead are being buried at night for fear of snipers taking aim at mourners.

At least 28 civilians were killed by security forces across Syria on Sunday, mainly in Homs, according to the London-based campaign group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

'Travesty'

Some residents fear Saturday's veto by China and Russia of the UN draft resolution condemning the crackdown will encourage the government to act without restraint.

The Syrian National Council, the biggest opposition group, said Russia and China were "responsible for the escalating acts of killing", calling the veto "an irresponsible step that is tantamount to a licence to kill with impunity".

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called the veto a "travesty" and expressed support for the Syrian opposition.

Chinese state-run media have defended Beijing's decision, calling it a Western push for regime change and citing previous campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Human rights groups and activists say more than 7,000 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since the uprising began last March.

The UN stopped estimating the death toll in Syria after it passed 5,400 in January, saying it was too difficult to confirm.

President Assad's government says at least 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed fighting "armed gangs and terrorists".—BBC

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