Syria Shells Homs, Kills 13
A day before Arab League observers are set to arrive
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2011 6:55 AM CST
This image made from amateur video and made available by Shaam News Network Thursday Dec. 22, 2011, purports to show smoke clouds after heavy shelling in Homs, Syria.    (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via APTN)

(Newser) – Arab League observers are headed to the turbulent city of Homs tomorrow to see if Bashar al-Assad is keeping his pledge to end the violent crackdown on dissent, and they might find themselves amidst a firefight when they get there. Syrian forces shelled the Baba Amr district today, killing 13 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the district was beset by heavy machine gun fire, armored vehicles, and mortars.

Arab monitors have picked Homs as their first stop because “it is the most turbulent place,” a source tells Reuters. Assad has promised to pull tanks and troops, which at this point are mostly battling armed revolutionaries, from the city; the Syrian Free Army controls portions of Homs, and has attempted to set up no-go areas to protect civilians. “The violence is definitely two-sided,” one resident says. “I've been seeing ambulances filled with wounded soldiers. … They're getting shot somehow.”