Troops pound 'tragic' Rastan as Syria violence kills 13
AFP, Tuesday 10 Jul 2012
In the Syrian town of Rastan, home to the highest numbers of defected army soldiers, regime forces kill thirteen, as food, water and electricity supply become limited

Regime forces rained shells on the rebel-held central Syrian town of Rastan as violence killed 13 people across the country on Tuesday, a watchdog said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the bombardment of Rastan as "violent," while activists on the ground said the situation was "tragic."

"It really wants to make you cry," an activist in Rastan told AFP via Skype. "We have many wounded, and there are no doctors here, only two dentists. We can't do anything for the wounded. It's tragic."

The activist, who identified himself as Abu Rawan, said "we are out of electricity, water and food supplies. They've shelled the water tanks and destroyed the power lines."

Activists describe Rastan as the town with the highest number of defected army officers, and regime forces have tried unsuccessfully for several months to reclaim the besieged town in Homs province.

Soldiers also shelled besieged districts of Homs city itself, including the Old City and Jurat al-Shiah neighbourhoods, under constant shelling for 33 days, according to activists on the ground.

An amateur video shot in Jurat al-Shiah and posted on YouTube by activists showed an abandoned district in ruins. Only the sound of birds is heard, as the cameraman shows streets filled with rubble and electricity cables hanging down from damaged buildings.

"We want to present this video as a gift to the Friends of Syria and the Arab League," the unidentified cameraman says with a tone of bitter sarcasm. "We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for what they have given the Syrian people."

Of those killed on Tuesday, seven were civilians, four were soldiers and two were rebels, the Observatory said, noting that 98 people were killed on Monday.

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.