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Syria opposition calls for intl protection in Homs

07 november 2011, 17:53
Syria's opposition called for "international protection for civilians" in the central city of Homs, besieged by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and theatre of deadly clashes between soldiers and alleged army deserters, AFP reports.

Declaring Homs a "humanitarian disaster area," the Syrian National Council urged the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League to act "to stop the massacre committed by the regime."

In a statement received by AFP in Nicosia, it called on the international community to send "Arab and international observers, instantly, to the city of Homs to oversee the situation on the ground, and prevent the regime from continuing to commit brutal massacres."

The Syrian National Council, which groups the main currents of the opposition, also called in its statement for the evacuation of civilians away from "areas that are under shelling and destruction."

The group said the Syrian regime had "launched a large-scale attack" overnight Sunday to Monday on the neighbourhoods of Homs and that "indiscriminate slaughter is being committed by the regime's militias."

The army, which has sought to crush the protest movement that erupted in March through force, was "using heavy artillery, rocket launchers, and warplanes to bomb populated residential neighborhoods" in Homs, it said.

"For the fifth consecutive day, the Syrian regime imposed a brutal siege on the brave city of Homs, aiming to break the will of its residents, and to brutalise its steadfast people who have dared to reject the regime's authority and mandate, and insisted on demanding their legitimate rights for freedom and dignity," it added.

The United Nations estimates that more than 3,000 people have been killed across Syria in a brutal crackdown by the security forces since anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March.

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