Syrian opposition reports Homs bombarded, clinic destroyed

Opposition activists said Monday that the Syrian military bombarded the central city of Homs, hitting a makeshift clinic and killing at least two dozen people

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Opposition activists said Monday that the Syrian military bombarded the central city of Homs, hitting a makeshift clinic and killing at least two dozen people.

Amateur video from Homs purported to show a field clinic overwhelmed with wounded and dead, while an irate doctor blamed Russia and China for the shelling. The comment was a reference to the two superpowers' veto Saturday of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have backed an Arab League plan calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish power.

"The situation is dramatic: We are escaping from one side of the neighborhood to the other," said an opposition activist reached in Homs, adding that casualties included staff at the makeshift clinic in the Baba Amro district. "We are just putting the wounded in homes and just trying, without success, to stop the bleeding. We cannot put in stitches or do operations."

The Syrian government reported that "armed terrorist attacks" struck Homs and elsewhere in Syria, and said "terrorists" had fired mortar rounds.

The conflicting accounts from the two sides could not be independently verified. The Assad regime has restricted direct media coverage of events in Syria.

Homs has been a flash point for the violence that has battered the country since anti-government protests broke out almost 11 months ago. The death toll has been escalating in recent days.

The opposition reported more than 200 killed in Homs during a weekend military bombardment of the Khaldiya neighborhood. The government denied the charges, accusing the opposition of fabricating the report and declaring that terrorists were attacking the city.

The collapse of the Security Council measure on Saturday has sparked contrasting reactions -- outrage from the opposition side and praise for Russia and China from the Syrian government.

The opposition said the U.N. measure would have laid out a potential path for peace in violence-wracked Syria. But the government labeled it an affront to the nation's sovereignty, a stance backed by Russia and China.

Anti-government activists have said the veto amounted to a "license to kill" for Syrian security services. Russia and China denied any such intention and said they would back new diplomatic efforts to end the rebellion in Syria, which has cost nearly 6,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Sunday that the situation in Syria could be degenerating into a civil war.

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-- Rima Marrouch and Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo: Protesters wave a revolutionary flag during a demonstration Sunday against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the city of Idlib. Credit: Associated Press

 
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