Syria protest hub hit with 'heaviest shelling'

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Damascus, Feb 17: Syrian forces today unleashed their heaviest pounding of Homs in two weeks, activists said after the UN General Assembly backed an Arab initiative calling on President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.

Rockets crashed into Khaldiyeh and Bayyada, centres of resistance in the central protest hub, at the rate of four a minute, according to an opposition activist inside the beleaguered city.

"It's the most violent in 14 days. It's unbelievable -- extreme violence the like of which we have never seen before, with an average of four rockets every minute," Hadi Abdullah of the opposition General Commission of the Syrian Revolution.

"In addition to the districts of Baba Amr and Inshaat, Khaldiyeh and Bayyada were pounded on Friday, but the shelling of these neighbourhoods was not as intense as in recent days," he told AFP in Beirut by phone from inside Homs.

The activist said that an "unprecedented" number of military planes and surveillance aircraft were overflying Homs.

Footage of the assault showed a tank firing on Homs, according to a video posted by activists on video-sharing website YouTube. The latest bombardment comes after the UN General Assembly demanded an immediate halt to Syria's brutal crackdown on dissent, which human rights groups say has cost more than 6,000 lives in the past 11 months. 

AFP 

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