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Homs, Qusayr battered as 31 killed in Syria: NGO

Ths Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reveals the death of 31 people across the country as regime troops besieged rebel-controlled areas of Homs and Qusayr, a province near the Lebanese border

AFP , Monday 9 Jul 2012
purports to show protesters carrying a large Syrian revolutionary flag during a demonstration in Homs, Syria, July 6, 2012. (Photo: AP)

 Syria's army pounded besieged rebel-held areas of Homs on Monday, monitors said, as troops also shocked Qusayr residents with a morning bombardment and 31 people were killed across the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that of those killed, 16 were civilians, 11 were regime troops and four were rebels.

Qusayr in the central province of Homs near the Lebanese border, pounded continuously for three months in a bid by regime forces to wipe out the revolt there, suffered renewed shelling early on Monday.

"When they attack in the morning their objective is to cause as many casualties as possible, because they know that's when people are on the streets," an activist who identified himself as Hussein told AFP, adding that the army's goal was to "terrorise the town."

"The result is that people hate the regime more, because that's when the children are playing on the streets and the elderly are having tea at the doors of their homes," he said.

An AFP correspondent saw several members of one family being treated for wounds, including a 13-year-old boy, after a shell exploded 10 metres (yards) away from them.

The boy's T-shirt was soaked in blood as his head bled from a deep cut.

"We were on our way to my mother-in-law's house when the bombs began to fall. We tried to run but a bomb exploded right in front of us," said the boy's father, who was also wounded.

Elsewhere, regime forces pressed their campaign against the Khaldiyeh, Jurat al-Shiah and the Old City neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs, said the Observatory.

Troops clashed with rebels on the edges of besieged areas, including Sultaniyeh, which borders the once rebel-held neighbourhood of Baba Amr, where blasts were also heard.

In the northwestern province of Idlib, regime forces pounded Ariha with shells and heavy machinegun fire, killing at least six people, the Observatory said.

An amateur video shot in Ariha and distributed by the Observatory showed a man lying in a pool of blood, arms outstretched.

It is not possible to independently verify death tolls for the conflict in Syria since the United Nations at the end of 2011 ceased compiling such figures.

However, the Observatory estimates that more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising erupted in mid-March last year.

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