'They Want To Finish us,' Syrian Resident Says - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'They Want To Finish us,' Syrian Resident Says

(CNN) -- A day after Russia's foreign minister touted the Syrian president's "commitment" to ending violence, at least 47 people were killed in the Syrian city of Homs Wednesday, an opposition activist group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 20 members of three "unarmed" families, killed when government forces stormed three homes in a neighborhood of Homs.

One opposition activist, Omar Shakir, put the death toll at 54 after visiting and calling field hospitals in three neighborhoods in Homs.

"There is nonstop shelling," said Shakir, a Homs resident. "They are shelling us using tanks."

He said those wounded by government troops must resort to ill-equipped, makeshift clinics because rockets struck one of two hospitals and the other was taken over by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

As the epicenter of the anti-government protest movement in Syria, Homs has experienced some of the worst violence since the government began its assault on dissidents 11 months ago.

"We cannot count the dead anymore. They want to finish us," said Mohammed Salih, another resident of Homs. He described loud explosions from shelling Wednesday that started at 5 a.m.

Even at home, activists say, no one is safe.

Government troops are moving from house to house by breaking through walls rather than venturing back onto the street, where they might face the opposition Free Syrian Army, said an activist who asked to be identified only as "Danny" for safety reasons. The Free Syrian Army includes soldiers who defected from government forces.

"All we need from the international community is to impose a no-fly zone and to assist the FSA (Free Syrian Army) with better weapons, and we can defeat Assad dogs," Shakir said.

In addition to the reported deaths in Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 people were wounded by government forces in the village of Taseel, and it reported ongoing clashes between government forces and defectors in the village of Kafr Shams.

The U.N. Security Council put forward a draft resolution over the weekend aimed at stemming the violence in Syria, but Russia and China vetoed the measure.

Wednesday, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights described "extreme urgency for the international community to cut through the politics and take effective action to protect the Syrian population."

"I am appalled by the Syrian government's willful assault on Homs and its use of artillery and other heavy weaponry in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in the city," Navi Pillay said in a statement. "The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have fueled the Syrian Government's readiness to massacre its own people in an effort to crush dissent."

Pillay said since the start of the brutal government crackdown on largely peaceful protesters, thousands of protesters and civilians have been killed, injured, detained or tortured. She said the acts may constitute crimes against humanity, punishable under international law.

U.S. officials made clear Tuesday that the United States has lost patience with al-Assad, who rose to power in 2000 following his father's three-decade rule.

"Your days are numbered," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, referring to al-Assad. "It is time and past time for you to transfer power responsibly and peacefully."

Her remarks came as two senior administration officials told CNN that while the United States remains focused on exerting nonmilitary pressure on Damascus, the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command have begun a preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities to prepare options in the event that U.S. President Barack Obama calls for them. click here to read the full story

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