Turks seek world action as Syria's Homs bleeds

Wed Feb 8, 2012 6:35pm EST
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By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria's army pounded the rebel city of Homs as Turkey sought international action to protect civilians from former ally President Bashar al-Assad, a move that risks the wrath of Russia and China.

Scores were killed in Homs on Wednesday, according to the opposition, drawing comparison with the plight of the city of Benghazi which triggered Western attacks on Libya last year and accelerating a global diplomatic showdown whose outcome is far from clear.

"I've seen whole families killed this week," an activist called Ahmed told Reuters from Homs, the scene of one of the bloodiest government onslaughts in the 11-month-old revolt against Assad. "Now I feel like I'm just waiting to be the next to die," added the accountant aged 28.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Reuters before flying to Washington for talks on Syria that Turkey, which once saw Assad as a valuable ally but now wants him out, could no longer stand and watch and wanted to host an international meeting to agree ways to end the killing and provide aid.

"It is not enough being an observer," he said. "It is time now to send a strong message to the Syrian people that we are with them," he added, while refusing to be drawn on what kind of action Turkey or its allies would be prepared to consider.

Syrian army tanks and artillery pounded areas of Homs where revolt had flourished, demolishing buildings where people were living, short of water, food and medical supplies and pinned down by sharpshooters on rooftops.

Syrian state media blamed foreign-backed "terrorists" for killing 30 security personnel on Tuesday and causing an explosion that set a refinery ablaze.

Syria's position at the heart of the Middle East, allied to Iran and home to a powder-keg religious and ethnic mix, means Assad's opponents have strenuously ruled out the kind of military action they took against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.   Continued...

<p>The remains of a wrecked vehicle are seen next to a damaged house in the Sunni Muslim district of Bab Amro in Homs in this picture received February 8, 2012. REUTERS/Mulham Alnader/Handout</p>