Syrian regime forces pounded rebel districts of the flashpoint central city of Homs for a 20th straight day on Thursday, a watchdog said, as activists spoke of “terrifying explosions”.
The neighbourhood of “Baba Amr, as well as parts of Inshaat have been shelled since 07:00 am (0500 GMT), while mortar rounds slammed into the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
The bombardment came a day after heavy shelling of Baba Amr, under siege since February 4, killed dozens of people, including two Western journalists.
“We hear terrifying explosions,” said activist Hadi Abdullah.
Abdullah, a member of the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution, said that the international outcry over Wednesday’s deaths appeared only to have strengthened the regime’s determination to eliminate all opposition in the city — Syria’s third largest.
“The more the condemnations pile on, the heavier the bombing becomes,” he told AFP.
Abdullah said there was evidence that the makeshift media centre where the two journalists were killed and two others wounded was deliberately targeted by regime forces.
“We are sure that the centre was targeted, because 11 rockets struck in and around it,” he said.
“The regime forces intercepted a transmission signal,” he added.
Abdullah said that communications between activists had been almost completely cut.
“Today, we couldn’t get in touch with around a dozen activists, not by Skype nor by Thuraya (satellite phone),” he said.
Veteran American journalist Marie Colvin, who reported for Britain’s Sunday Times, and French freelance photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in Wednesday’s bombardment of Baba Amr, French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said.
French newspaper Le Figaro said one of its reporters, Edith Bouvier, was wounded in the legs. Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Sunday Times, said one of the paper’s photojournalists, Paul Conroy, was also injured.
More than 7,600 people have been killed in violence since protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March last year, according to Syrian Observatory figures.