Syrian regime launches deadly air strikes on Old City of Homs

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Syrian army air strikes in the central city of Homs on Sunday killed three civilians, as government forces pressed forward with a new bid to retake several Opposition-controlled districts, a watchdog said, according to AFP.

“Syrian warplanes carried out air strikes on the Old City of Homs a little while ago, destroying a house and causing three deaths,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Regime forces also carried out heavy shelling of the districts of Khaldiyeh and the Old City, and the sound of explosions could be heard,” the group added.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said at least three civilians, a woman and two children, were killed in the air strikes in the Old City, and that dozens of people had been injured since the army assault began on Saturday, reported AFP.

“The army is continuing its attempt to enter Khaldiyeh, but it hasn’t succeeded so far,” he added.

On Saturday, the watchdog group said government forces were engaged in “unprecedented” bombardment of several parts of Homs, including the areas of Khaldiyeh, Bab Hud, Hamidiyeh and Bustan al-Diwan.

A security source in Damascus confirmed to AFP that fierce fighting was underway in Homs.

“Military operations never stopped in Homs, but their pace increases according to priorities,” he said on Saturday.

“What’s important is to cleanse those neighborhoods of Homs that are in the hands of armed terrorists, particularly Khaldiyeh, Hamidiyeh and the Old City,” he added.

Syria’s Al-Watan daily, which is affiliated with the government, said on Sunday that the army had “made qualitative new advances in the city of Homs amid fierce clashes with armed militias in Khalidiyeh and Bab Hud.”

The operation prompted Syria’s key opposition National Coalition to release a statement late Saturday urging “battalions of the Free Syrian Army to come to the aid of Homs with all means possible.”

The group also urged international backers of the uprising to establish a no-fly zone and carry out air strikes against Syrian army military bases.

Homs, the third largest-city in the country, was one of the first to join the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad more than two years ago.

Khaldiyeh and the Old City have been under siege by the army for around a year, according to AFP.