File - A Syrian stands in the rubble of a destroyed buildings from Syrian forces shelling, in the al-Hamidiyyeh neighborhood of Homs province, Syria, June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Lens Young Homsi)
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Weakened Syrian rebels are making their last desperate stand in Homs, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad launch their harshest assault yet to expel them from the central city, once known as the capital of the revolution.Assad's forces are building on gains elsewhere. They have been able to almost clear rebels from a broad swath of territory south of Homs between the capital, Damascus, and the Lebanese border, breaking important rebel supply lines there. Rebels in Homs have been deeply weakened by months of blockade around their strongholds and the loss of supply lines from Lebanon in March, after Syrian forces seized the border town of Zara.One rebel fighter in the city, who uses the name Abu Bilal, estimated that 1,000 rebels remain.An activist in Homs, Abu Rami, said rebels wanting to leave had affected the spirits of others struggling under the blockade. Khalidieh said fighters had to be saved now that Homs was lost.
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