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Syria’s Regime Forces Continue Homs Offensive; Death Toll Rises

The death toll continued to rise over the weekend as the Syrian regime’s offensive against rebel forces in Homs province continued into another day spurred-on by bloody gains. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths of 23 children on Sunday, both there and across the country. Fierce fighting continued in and around Damascus on Sunday, with the Assad regime bombing eastern towns with an increased number of sorties by fighter jets. Artillery continued to pound residential districts. The children reported killed were divided between Damascus and Aleppo.  On Sunday, United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi urged the international community to exert intense pressure on Syria and the rebels to get to the negotiating table. On Saturday, Brahimi admonished that the choice facing Syria was “hell or the political process.” Russia has sent a third naval ship to its base in the port of Tartus, apparently in readiness for an evacuation of Russian nationals. Opposition refuses to agree to Brahimi’s plan unless it specifically calls for President Bashar Al-Assad’s removal.