Villagers pictured in the back of a truck in the countryside in the central Syrian province of Homs Sunday
Villagers ride in the back of a truck in the countryside in the central Syrian province of Homs on February 5. The Syrian central city of Homs was undergoing heavy shelling on Tuesday, activists said, with security forces seeking to seize a key neighbourhood where rebel forces have a significant presence. © Alessio Romenzi - AFP/File
Villagers pictured in the back of a truck in the countryside in the central Syrian province of Homs Sunday
AFP
Last updated: February 7, 2012

Government troops besiege Syria's Homs

At least 21 civilians and four soldiers were killed on Tuesday in violence across Syria, the majority of them in the flashpoint central city of Homs, activists said.

"At least nine civilians, including a woman, were killed by gunfire and shelling as (troops) attempt an assault on the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood of the city," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

The Britain-based group said four Syrian troops were killed in the assault on Khaldiyeh, while six other civilians were killed in shelling of the Baba Amr neighborhood.

Elsewhere, five civilians were killed in clashes in Zabadani, located near the capital Damascus and the Lebanese border.

Clashes were also reported in Hula, in Homs province, where a 15-year-old boy was reported killed.

In Idlib, the army was shelling the village of Kafar Takharim, where there are members of the Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors and sympathisers, activists said.

"There are fierce clashes between soldiers and defectors," said the Local Coordination Committees, a loose umbrella organisation of opposition activists.

Clashes were also taking place in Basr al-Harir, in the southern province of Daraa, where 70 soldiers had defected, the LCC said.

According to rights groups, more than 6,000 people have died since the outbreak of the revolt in Syria mid-March.

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