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Sat February 4, 2012
Middle East

Activists: Syrian Assault Leaves More Than 250 Dead

Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 12:05 pm

In Syria, the death toll is rising after what activists and opposition leaders are calling a massive offensive by pro-government troops in the city of Homs. Activists say at least 250 have been killed in what may be the single most violent day since Syria's anti-government uprising began in March.

Activists say the government troops shelled residential areas, reducing scores of houses to rubble, They say the situation on the ground is critical, with hundreds of wounded being treated in makeshift field hospitals and mosques. Many are missing limbs and are in dire need of blood and shelter.

Syrian state media denied the reports by activists, saying the dead were victims of terrorist attacks.

The assault comes as the United Nations Security Council could vote later Saturday on a resolution condemning the violence in Syria. The Council for now has ruled out any military intervention in Syria but plans to back an Arab League initiative calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to abdicate power to a deputy.

Russia has said it won't endorse a measure calling for regime change. U.N. officials say the language in Saturday's resolution might be more vague.

Even so, analysts in the region say the resolution is an important step toward making it clear to the Syrian regime it can no longer use violence against its own people. The resolution calls for Security Council supervision in the coming weeks and includes vague threats of further action if the Syrian government doesn't comply.

The U.N. says more than 5,000 people have died since Syria's anti-government uprising began in March. Activists say that number is much, much higher.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. In Syria, the death toll is rising after what activists and opposition leaders are calling a massive offensive by pro-government troops in the city of Homs. Activists say at least 250 people have been killed in what could be the single-most violent day since Syria's anti-government uprising began last March. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports from Beirut.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Activists say government troops shelled residential areas, reducing scores of houses to rubble, and killing civilians, including women and children. They say the situation on the ground is critical, with hundreds of wounded being treated in makeshift field hospitals and mosques. Many are missing limbs and are in dire need of blood and shelter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHELLING)

MCEVERS: In this video, calls to prayer and anti-government protest chants can be heard over heavy gunfire.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

MCEVERS: Syrian state media denied the reports by activists, saying the dead were victims of terrorist attacks. The violence comes as the United Nations Security Council could vote later today on a resolution condemning the violence in Syria. The Council for now has ruled out any military intervention in Syria but plans to back an Arab League initiative calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to abdicate power to a deputy. Russia has said it won't endorse a measure calling for regime change. U.N. officials say the language in Saturday's resolution might be more vague. Even so, analysts in the region say the resolution is an important step toward making it clear to the Syrian regime it can no longer use violence against its own people. The resolution calls for Security Council supervision in the coming weeks and includes vague threats of further action if the Syrian government doesn't comply. The U.N. says more than 5,000 people have died since Syria's anti-government uprising began in March. Activists say that number is much, much higher. Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.