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Continued: Syrian army fires heavy artillery barrages on Homs as UN warns of humanitarian catastrophe

  • Article by: BASSEM MROUE , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 5, 2013 - 2:05 PM

"The capture of Homs means that an international political solution is closer," Saleh said, referring to attempts by the United States and Russia to bring rival factions in Syria to a peace conference.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, said he is "extremely concerned about the human rights and humanitarian impact" of the government offensive.

"Shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel in besieged areas are severely affecting civilians, including women and children," he said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Recent reports suggest that armed opposition groups are operating inside residential areas, increasing the risk for civilians, the statement said, adding that the number of civilians trapped in the heavy fighting in and around Homs is believed to be between 2,500 and 4,000.

In Turkey, Syria's main opposition bloc appealed to the United Nations and Western countries that have supported the opposition in Syria's civil war "to intervene immediately" and provide food and medicine to the besieged, rebel-held areas of Homs.

"The areas under attack in Homs have been cut off from the rest of the world and suffer from an urgent shortage of medicine and food," the Syrian National Coalition said in a statement.

More than 93,000 people have been killed in the conflict that began as peaceful protests but turned into an armed revolt after opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown.

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