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Syrian Forces Make Progress against Rebels in Homs Area

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad have made headway in the Homs area, taking back land previously lost to opposition fighters. The battle for the district, which was described as “intense” and “fierce,” leaves the regime forces and rebel troops splitting the district. Even in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces, where rebel forces have claimed victories, the results remain mixed with government forces still in control of key positions.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 32 Syrians, including 11 children, died in regime shelling around Damascus on Saturday. The shelling was reported to be continuing on Sunday. The death toll since the onset of fighting almost two years ago is now in excess of 45,000. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov said Syrian President Assad has no intention of stepping down.