200 Dead in Syria Assault

Worst killings since uprising began as UN prepares to vote

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 4, 2012 5:21 AM CST

(Newser) – With anti-government forces stepping up, the Syrian military killed more than 200 people yesterday with artillery fire in the city of Homs, reports Reuters. It was the single-worst day of civilian casualties since the uprisings began early last year. Other reports put the death toll as high as 337 in Homs, and 416 nationwide, according to Al Arabiya, which also reported that the military attacks came in response to the Free Syrian Army killing 14 soldiers and capturing 19 at army checkpoints. "We were sitting inside our house when we started hearing the shelling. We felt shells were falling on our heads," said one resident of the shelled neighborhood.

The Syrian government denied the mass killings, calling those reports "distortion [and] falsification," and saying gruesome videos and images released by activist groups were actually "innocent citizens kidnapped, tortured, and slaughtered by the armed terrorist groups," according to the Syrian Arab News Agency. The UN Security Council is set to meet today to vote on a draft measure on Syria. But even though the resolution was weakened, at Russia's insistence, from a call for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to just support for a "Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system," Russia apparently is still balking, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Would they dare, with what is happening in Homs?" said one diplomat. Angry protests also broke out last night at Syrian embassies in London, Washington, and Cairo.

Syrian anti-regime protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Al-Qsair, southwest of the flashpoint city Homs yesterday.
Syrian anti-regime protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Al-Qsair, southwest of the flashpoint city Homs yesterday.   (Getty Images)
In this citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and released Friday, anti-Syrian regime protesters march in Bensh, Idlib Province, northern Syria.
In this citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and released Friday, anti-Syrian regime protesters march in Bensh, Idlib Province, northern Syria.   (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)
A young boy holds up a sign during an anti-regime demonstration in the Syrian village of al-Qsair.
A young boy holds up a sign during an anti-regime demonstration in the Syrian village of al-Qsair.   (Getty Images)
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