Dozens killed in Syria; Red Cross urges cease-fire

EBEIRUT (AP) — Food and water are running dangerously low in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, with frantic cries for help from residents amid government shelling that pounded rebel strongholds and killed at least 30 people Tuesday, activists said.

Shells reportedly rained down on rebellious districts at a rate of 10 per minute at one point and the Red Cross called for a daily two-hour cease-fire so it can deliver emergency aid to the wounded and sick.

“If they don’t die in the shelling, they will die of hunger,” activist and resident Omar Shaker told The Associated Press after hours of intense shelling concentrated on the rebel-held neighborhood of Baba Amr that the opposition has extolled as a symbol of their 11-month uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Another 33 people were killed in northern Syria’s mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya region when government forces raided a town in pursuit of regime opponents, raising Tuesday’s overall death toll to 63, activists said. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, said more than 100 were killed Tuesday, but the report could not immediately be confirmed by others.

Russia, one of Assad’s remaining allies, urged the United Nations to send a special envoy to Syria to help coordinate security issues and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Assad’s forces showed no sign of easing their assault on Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, whose defiance has become an embarrassing counterpoint to the regime’s insistence that the opposition is mostly armed factions with limited public support.

The rebel defenses in Homs are believed to be bolstered by hundreds of military defectors, which has possibly complicated attempts by Syrian troops to stage an offensive. On Monday, reinforcements of Syrian tanks and soldiers massed outside the city in what could be a prelude to a ground attack.

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