31 killed in Syria as referendum goes ahead

By REUTERS
February 26, 2012 17:24

BEIRUT - At least 31 Syrian civilians and soldiers were killed on Sunday in fighting over Syria's future that coincided with a vote on a new constitution that could keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power until 2028.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a military bombardment of opposition districts in Homs, now in its fourth week, had killed nine civilians, while rebel fighters had killed four soldiers in clashes in the city.

The British-based Observatory said eight civilians and 10 members of the security forces were killed in violence elsewhere in Syria, scene of what has become an increasingly militarized revolt against four decades of Assad family rule.

Voting was under way in the referendum on a new constitution, which Assad says will lead to a multi-party parliamentary election in three months, but his opponents see as a sick joke given Syria's turmoil.

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