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Shelling reported to continue despite Syria peace plan [video]

April 4, 2012 | 10:20 am

Despite the Syrian government's acceptance of a peace plan that includes a cease-fire, shelling by security forces appears to be continuing in the central city of Homs, long a flashpoint in the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

Opposition activists released numerous videos Wednesday purporting to show the city under attack. In the footage shared on YouTube, dark smoke curls up from buildings and loud reports are heard. The video above claims to show the moment a shell or rocket landed in the Deir Baalba neighborhood.

"God is great!" the jarred cameraman starts shouting as the projectile apparently crashes into an area of the Homs neighborhood not far from the camera.

The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist network, said at least 54 people had died in the conflict Wednesday, including 25 people in Homs. Besides the shelling in Homs, the network reported an army massacre in Idlib and homes being burned in Dara. The claims could not be independently verified.

The rebels have also been accused of continuing attacks. Syrian state media, which refer to the rebels as terrorists, said they had massacred civilians in Homs on Tuesday, killing four women and abducting "a number of citizens" before killing them, mutilating and burning their bodies.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government claimed it had begun pulling out troops from several areas. Yet dissidents said army assaults and violence hadn't relented, adding to the deep skepticism among opposition groups and Western envoys that Assad will conform to the peace plan.

The government has agreed to a deadline of April 10 to carry out the six-point plan advanced by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan, which includes a cease-fire, political talks with the opposition, humanitarian aid and other steps. Skeptics point out that the Assad regime agreed to another peace plan in the past only to ignore it.

Here are three more purported glimpses of the reported shelling in Homs, as seen through amateur video. The Syrian government has often disputed the footage taken by opposition activists, claiming it is staged. Because media access is restricted in Syria, The Times cannot confirm the exact events shown.

In the first video below, purportedly filmed in the Qarabeed area and shared by opposition activists, black smoke is seen rising from the neighborhood amid the deafening sounds of tank fire. "Homs 4/4/12, army forces shelling Homs residential areas," the cameraman says:

In this second video purported to be taken in Qarabeed, a barrage of what sounds like rocket or shell fire can be heard. Dense black smoke covers the skyline. "Rocket on the houses from Assad's gangs,"  the cameraman says:

This third clip claims to show rocket fire on the Qusour neighborhood of Homs on Wednesday, recording the sound of an incoming tank shell smashing somewhere in the area. Black smoke is seen:


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-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles