Forces loyal to Assad blamed for massacre of at least 30

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Armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been accused of massacring at least 30 people in renewed violence in Syria.

Activists said government troops fired on homes with mortars and machine guns.

A family of women and children were reported to be among the victims during a day of sectarian killings and kidnappings in the besieged city of Homs.

The violence erupted on Thursday, but important details were only emerging yesterday.

Video posted online by activists showed the bodies of five small children, five women of varying ages and a man, all bloodied and piled on beds in what appeared to be an apartment after a building was hit in the Karm el-Zaytoun neighbourhood of the city. A narrator said an entire family had been “slaughtered”.

Heavy gunfire erupted for a second day in the city, which has seen some of the heaviest violence of the 10-month-old uprising against Assad’s rule. Activists said at least 10 people were killed across the country, four of them in Homs.

Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint outside the northern city of Idlib, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, quoting witnesses on the ground.

In an attempt to stop the bloodshed, the UN Security Council was to hold a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis, a step toward a possible resolution against the Damascus regime.

The UN says at least 5,400 people have been killed in the government crackdown since March.

Details of Thursday’s wave of killings in Homs were emerging from residents and activists.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 29 people were killed, including eight children, when a building came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire.

Some residents spoke of another massacre that took place when shabiha – armed regime loyalists – stormed the district, slaughtering residents in an apartment, including children.

“It’s racial cleansing,” said one Sunni resident of Karm el-Zaytoun.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency said gunmen in Syria have kidnapped 11 Iranian pilgrims travelling by road from Turkey to Damascus.