WORLD

Army steps up Homs shelling, more reported killed

DAMASCUS – Syrian rights activists say at least 17 people have been killed and many more wounded in a new bombardment by Syrian forces on the flashpoint city of Homs, Voice of America said. Arabic satellite television stations broadcast images from Homs Monday that showed smoke billowing into the sky from buildings damaged in the violence. The attacks occurred in several parts of Homs, where an oil pipeline also exploded. Syrian state television says “terrorist gangs” were behind the bombings.

The violence comes several days after activists reported what they called a massacre in Homs, saying at least 200 people died in a government bombardment late Friday into Saturday, in what appeared to be one of the deadliest incidents of the 11-month revolt.

Meanwhile, Russia and China defended their veto of a UN draft resolution criticising Syria – a move that angered opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, the BBC said. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday called the veto a “travesty”.

On Monday a spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Russia and China are protecting a regime that is killing thousands of people. We find their position incomprehensible and inexcusable.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would discuss the situation in Syria with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev later yesterday.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution, drafted by Arab and European countries, would have meant taking sides in a civil war. Lavrov is due to travel to Damascus on Tuesday for talks with President Assad. The Chinese government also defended its veto. It said the draft resolution would only have complicated matters, and said Beijing sought to “avoid the scourge of armed conflict”.

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