Syrian forces enter Homs district after bombardment

UK foreign secretary calls on Arab League to "respond swiftly" to ongoing violence; army defectors move into neighborhoods to protect them.

Syrian tank in Hama 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian tank in Hama 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
AMMAN - Troops and militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad entered a residential district of Homs after six days of tank bombardment that killed scores of people and wounded hundreds in the hotbed of unrest, residents and activists said on Monday.
Army defectors who had taken refuge in Bab Amro and helped defend the neighborhood, which has seen regular street rallies against Assad's autocratic rule, had withdrawn and loyalist forces moved in overnight, they said.
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"They are storming houses now and arresting people, but not many are left in Bab Amro. The shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) have brought pick-up trucks and are looting buildings," Raed Ahmad, one of the activists, said by phone.
Syrian authorities have banned independent media from Homs, making it impossible to verify events on the ground.
UK Foreign Minister William Hague said his "thoughts are with all those suffering terrible violence in Syria," in a statement put out via his Twitter account on Monday.
The UK foreign secretary also called on the Arab League "to respond swiftly" to the ongoing violence.