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Homs Attacked By Syria Forces, Crisis Deepens

Homs Attack Syria Forces

First Posted: 02/23/2012 4:45 am Updated: 02/23/2012 7:00 am

BEIRUT (AP) — Warnings from Syrian activists of a humanitarian catastrophe in Homs grew more desperate Thursday as government forces resumed shelling an opposition stronghold in the restive central city, where hundreds have died in a weeks-long siege.

About 30 people, including two Western journalists, were killed in shelling on Wednesday — most of them in the rebel-held Baba Amr neighborhood which is the center of the resistance in the city. Homs has been under a fierce government attack for nearly three weeks now.

Homs-based activist Omar Shaker said intense barrages hit residential districts in Baba Amr again Thursday, but there was no immediate word on casualties. He said food, water and medical supplies are running dangerously low in Baba Amr.

"Every minute counts. People will soon start to collapse from lack of sleep and shortages in food," he said.

On Wednesday, shelling of Baba Amr killed American-born veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

They were among a group of journalists who had crossed into Syria illegally and were sharing accommodations with activists, raising speculation that government forces targeted the makeshift media center where they were staying. But opposition groups had previously described the shelling as indiscriminate. At least two other Western journalists were wounded on Wednesday.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman offered condolences to the families of Colvin and Ochlik but rejected any responsibility for their deaths. The spokesman urged foreign journalists to respect Syrian laws and not to sneak into the country.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said nations were considering action against Syria in meetings on the sidelines of an international conference in London. Hague said he would discuss "what we can achieve" with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and many of the Arab League leaders .

Officials say Britain, the United States, Turkey, Qatar and others plan talks on the margins of a conference on Somalia.

At a major meeting in Tunis set for Friday, more than 70 nations are expected to look at ways to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad's opponents, who now include defected military officers and soldiers.

Hague told BBC radio that military intervention was very unlikely, as "the consequences of any outside intervention are much harder to foresee."

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In this Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 file citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, anti-Syrian regime activist Khaled Abu-Salah stands in front of flames and black smoke from a bombed oil pipeline, in Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria, File)

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