39 killed in Syria violence as protests rage

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Protest in Syria
Damascus, Feb 24: At least 39 people were killed on Friday in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad's forces shelled the protest city of Homs for the 21st straight day and tens of thousands rallied nationwide to demand his ouster.

Four people where killed in the bombardment of the Homs district of Baba Amr, where hundreds have reportedly been killed since forces loyal to the regime began an artillery attack on February 4, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Four others, including a woman and her daughter, were killed in Khaldiyeh, another neighbourhood of Homs, the Britain-based Observatory said. "Baba Amr is being brought down on the heads of its inhabitants," wrote one activist who posted online footage of the bombing. "O, Arabs and Muslims, why don't you react?" he asked.

US war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed on Wednesday in shelling that hit a makeshift media centre in Baba Amr. Security forces today killed 18 civilians -- including seven members of the same family -- in the village of Hilfaya in the central province of Hama, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

He said they died in "high-calibre gunfire." Security forces also killed another civilian in the Homs province town of Qusayr, the Observatory said. Meanwhile, army defectors clashed with regime forces in the city of Rastan in Homs province, and destroyed two personnel carriers as troops tried to storm the rebel-held city, the Observatory said.

AFP

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