Mortars and rockets kill scores in Syrian city

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Syrian forces have fired mortars and rockets killing scores of people in the rebellious city of Homs, activists say.

It is the latest strike in a week long assault as President Bashar Assad’s regime tries to crush increasingly militarised pockets of dissent.

Syria’s third-largest city has become the focus of both resistance and reprisal in the 11-month uprising as many areas have fallen under the control of increasingly bold army defectors who want to bring down the regime by force.

In the latest operation, which began on Saturday, government forces have unleashed a relentless offensive, shelling residential areas as they try to destroy or root out any resistance and retake control.

During lulls in the onslaught, Syrians used loudspeakers to call for blood donations and medical supplies.

“There is medicine in the pharmacies, but getting it to the field clinics is very difficult, they can’t get the medicine to the wounded,” Mohammed Saleh, a Syria-based activist, said by telephone.

The regime’s crackdown on dissent has left it almost completely isolated internationally, but Assad is backed by Russia and China, who blocked a UN resolution calling on him to leave power.

Sanctions are crippling the Syrian economy, but they have failed to stop the largely Russian-armed military killing more than 5,400 people since March.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the LCC were trying to compile numbers and names of those killed. The Local Co-ordination Committees, an activist group, said an estimated 90 people were killed in Homs. Activists also reported violence in Zabadani and Daraa.

A senior Arab League official said it will discuss at a meeting on Sunday whether to recognise the opposition Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of Syria and whether to allow it to open offices in Arab capitals.