Middle East

At least 45 Syrian rebels killed in Homs fighting: NGO

Syrians look at the damage after an alleged mortar attack by opposition forces on the al-Mahattah neighbourhood of the Syrian central city of Homs on January 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/SANA

BEIRUT: Loyalist forces have killed at least 45 Syrian rebels as they sought to break a regime siege on part of Homs, in central Syria, an NGO said on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels, from different brigades, were killed late Wednesday and early Thursday as they attempted to end an army siege that has lasted more than a year.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the number of dead could be higher.

"They were killed as they tried to launch an operation to end the siege of Homs; they were ambushed by regime forces near the Khaldiya neighbourhood, which is under government control," he told AFP.

Several thousand civilians are reportedly trapped by the siege, which has been imposed on rebel-held areas of Homs's Old City.

In October, activists warned of severe food and energy shortages in the besieged areas and reported that residents were malnourished.





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