Syria steps up shelling of Homs after UN rights chief chides Assad


Syrian army tanks are seen stationed at the entrance to Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs on February 13, 2012. Syria ignored a new Arab initiative to end the bloodshed, with its troops pounding the protest hub of Homs as Russia said a ceasefire is needed before peacekeepers can be deployed. -/AFP PHOTO



BEIRUT, Lebanon — Having resumed shelling early Tuesday, Syrian government forces began a 13th day of their attack on the city of Homs in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to the news agency Reuters, which said the government also broadened the violence with a ground assault on the city of Hama.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired on residential neighborhoods in Hama from armored vehicles and mobile anti-aircraft guns, the news agency said, citing opposition sources. The scenes are reminscient of the 1982 massacre when the Syrian army killed perhaps tens of thousands to suppress a revolt on the or al-Assad's father Hafez al-Assad.

By Tuesday, at least seven have been killed and 20 have been injured, according to Al Jazeera.

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On Monday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the General Assembly exclusively on the Syria situation. Pillay said, "According to credible accounts, the Syrian army has shelled densely populated neighborhoods of Homs in what appears to be an indiscriminate attack on civilian areas. More than 300 people have reportedly been killed in the city since the start of this assault ten days ago. The majority of them were victims of the shelling."

She continued, "The nature and scale of abuses committed by Syrian forces indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed since March 2011."

The Times reported that "the renewed onslaught seemed to reflect Ms. Pillay’s accusation at the United Nations that the Syrian authorities were interpreting the repeated international failure to end the violence as a green light."

An activist told Al Jazeera, "Everytime the international community issues a strong statement, the Syrian regime decides to take revenge on us. This is the trend we noticed."

According to Reuters, France has created an emergency fund of 1 million euro, or about $1.3 million, to suppor aid agencies working with the Syrian people and the French government said it would propose the creation of a similar international fund at meeting on the crisis that is to be held next week in Tunisia.

Reuters also reported that at an Arab League meeting in Cairo, foreign ministers indicated that if violence in Syria does not cease, they may begin to arm Syria's opposition.