29 killed as Assad's forces assault Homs

Syrian forces continue rocket and mortar bombardments; China says Syrian opposition visited and met vice foreign minister.

By REUTERS
February 9, 2012 10:15
1 minute read.
Military vehicle seen in Syria, Homs

Military vehicle seen in Syria, Homs_390. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Syrian forces killed at least 29 people on Thursday in rocket and mortar bombardments of several districts of Homs, the heart of a revolt against President Bashar Assad, activists and opposition sources said.

They said the bombardments centered on the Baba Amro, Inshaat, Khalidiya, al-Bayyada and Jouret al-Shayyah districts of the city of one million people.

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Earlier, the British-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 people had been killed in Baba Amro and another in Khalidiya.

Activists and residents have reported hundreds of people killed over the last week in the heaviest assault on the city since an uprising against Assad erupted last March. The revolt started with street protests but has become an armed insurgency in many parts of the country.

Authorities say they are fighting foreign backed "terrorists" in Homs.

China says Syrian opposition visited

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that a Syrian opposition delegation had visited the country this week and met Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun.



It was the first contact reported by China in the wake of escalating violence in Syria and Beijing's veto in the UN of a draft resolution on the country.

China joined Russia at the weekend to veto the resolution in the Security Council that would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit after months of worsening bloodshed.

The veto has been heavily condemned by Western governments.

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"China is willing to maintain contacts and communication with relevant Syrian opposition groups," ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.

Beijing has rejected criticism of its veto of the resolution, insisting that it was committed to the long-term interests of the Syrian people.

Earlier this week, the Chinese government said it was considering sending an envoy to the Middle East to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Opposition sources in Syria on Thursday said that armored reinforcements were pouring into Homs as Assad's forces bombarded the city for a fourth day, worsening the humanitarian situation and prompting a new diplomatic push from Turkey.

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