Syrian forces assault opposition strongholds

Opposition fighters fled the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor in the face of a fierce army assault [AFP]

Syrian government forces have launched military assaults in different parts of the country, activists say, as key ally Russia has said that Damascus is making “a lot of mistakes” in handling the unrest sweeping the country.

Opposition activists on Wednesday said army troops shelled three neighbourhoods in central city of Homs, a day after at least 14 people were killed in heavy bombardment.
The districts under attack, al-Qosour, al-Khalidiya and al-Bayada, are located adjacent to one another in northern Homs.
Hadi al-Abdallah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission activist network told Al Jazeera that the neighbourhoods are crowded with people who fled Bab Amr, the area that government troops took over from opposition fighters after a fierce offensive last month.
“Four or five families are crammed into each house. People are also sheltering in mosques and unfinished buildings,” he told the AFP news agency in a separate interview.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based rights group, reported that at least five people had been killed and dozens more wounded during Wednesday’s shelling in al-Khalidiya. 
The Observatory said four soldiers were also killed on Wednesday in the Sultaniyeh district of the city, while four civilians had been also killed in the town of Talbisseh, in the province of Homs.
It said that at least 40 people, 32 of them civilians, had been killed in army operations and clashes with deserters across the country on Wednesday.
Artillery was also reported to have targeted the rebel town of Rastan, north of Homs city, and shelling at the ancient Apamea castle at Qalat Mudiq, near Hama.
Also on Wednesday, two large suburbs of Damascus came under heavy tank bombardment following renewed attacks by opposition fighters on forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.


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