Syrian Troops Widen Fighting
SYRIAN soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought opposition forces in at least three cities, as the death toll mounted amid growing international pressure to end almost a year of violence.
Soldiers battled in Homs after regaining control of the city’s Baba Amro district from rebels on March 1, while clashes escalated in the cities of Idlib and Hama, Mahmoud Merei, head of the Damascus-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights, said.
At least 46 people were killed yesterday, including 14 government soldiers, three army defectors and 29 civilians, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.
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The month-long siege of Homs has led to intensified international pressure on Dr Assad a year after his forces began a crackdown on protests.
The army has used tanks and artillery to fight opposition forces and more than 7500 people have died in the conflict, according to the United Nations.
An International Committee of the Red Cross team that arrived in Homs on March 2 with Syrian Red Crescent Society members was not allowed into Baba Amro, the Red Cross said.
The Syrian government said mines and booby traps had to be cleared first, the BBC reported yesterday.
The BBC also said there were unconfirmed reports of mass arrests and summary executions by Syrian forces in the district.
Saudi Arabia said Gulf Co-operation Council members were prepared to participate in any joint effort to help Syrians protect themselves from the Assad government, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.