Syrian tanks and troops storm into city of Homs

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The Independent Online

Syrian tanks and troops entered three districts of the central city of Homs yesterday, residents said, as violence across the country continued amid anti-government protests.

In Syria's third largest city, home to one million people, residents reported hearing machine gun fire and shelling in residential areas.

At least one civilian, a 12-year-old child, was killed when tanks charged into the Bab Sebaa, Bab Amro and Tal al-Sour districts of Homs overnight, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"The areas have been under siege since yesterday. There is a total blackout on the numbers of dead and injured. Telecommunications and electricity are repeatedly being cut in the districts," the Observatory said.

A witness said security forces killed at least two unarmed demonstrators last night when they opened fire on a night rally in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor.

A man was killed when security forces smashed their way into his home in the southern town of Tafas, a rights campaigner in the Hauran Plain region said. Scores were arrested in Tafas.

"They come with lists of hundreds of wanted names and besiege whole towns," he said.

The official state news agency said an "armed gang" had ambushed a bus near Homs and shot dead 10 civilian workers.