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At least 47 people killed in Syria

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows smoke billowing from the Baba Amr neighbourhood after shells were fired in the Syrian city of Homs. (AFP)


At least 44 civilians were killed across Syria on Monday and scores were injured as regime troops pounded the city of Homs with mortars and launched an assault on Zabadani, near the capital, activists said.

State media said three soldiers were also killed by what it said was an "armed terrorist gang" in the northwest province of Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 29 civilians were killed in the central city of Homs, but added that the death toll was likely to rise because many of the wounded had suffered critical injuries.

The shelling, which began at dawn, was mainly targeting the neighbourhoods of Khaldiyeh, Baba Amro, Inshaat and Bab Sbaa, the Britain-based group said said.

Syrian state television accused "armed gangs" of being behind the latest violence in Homs.

The Observatory said five people were also killed on Monday in shelling by security forces on the town of Rastan, in Homs province.

Elsewhere, two civilians, including a child, were killed when their car came under fire from security forces at Sarghaya, near Damascus.

In the country's second city of Aleppo in the north, a 45-year-old male passenger aboard a bus was shot dead, the Observatory said.
The army also launched a fierce assault on the town of Zabadani, northwest of the capital and near the border with Lebanon, the rights watchdog said, adding that three civilians were killed in the neighbouring town of Madaya.

"Troops backed by hundreds of armoured vehicles have launched an assault on the town of Zabadani ... which is undergoing heavy tank shelling," the Observatory said.

In Idlib, four civilians were also killed, three of them -- two woman and a child -- in a rocket attack on a field.

Opposition groups and activists at the weekend had said that at least 200 civilians were killed in Homs overnight Friday during a heavy tank and mortar bombardment by regime forces.

"Nail bombs" were also reported to have been used against civilians.

On Sunday, activists reported more shelling in the city, with at least 23 civilians killed.