|Heavy shelling in Syrian city ahead of Arab League visit|
BEIRUT • As many as 35 people were killed in heavy shelling and gunfire in the Syrian city of Homs on Monday,
opposition activists said, even as the first group of about 50 Arab League observers was expected to arrive in the country to monitor compliance with a regional peace initiative.
League officials said some observers would head to Homs today to get a firsthand look at a city that has been the center of a 9-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Most of Monday's deaths were reported in the city's Bab Amro district, which activists say has endured days of heavy shelling, machine gun fire and raids. Two groups — the Local Coordination Committees and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — said that 30 to 35 people were killed, but their tallies could not be confirmed independently.
The Local Coordination Committees, another opposition group, said security forces were targeting "homes and anyone who moves in the neighborhood" with mortar, artillery and other heavy weapons fire.
"There are no words to describe the situation today," said an activist reached in Bab Amro who spoke on the condition of anonymity for safety reasons. "The shelling has not stopped since 6 a.m. Whole families are being killed under the rubble of their houses. ... The apartment I'm in right now had a shell dropped on the floor above us and five shells around the building."
Video uploaded to YouTube and said to have been shot on Monday purported to show the bloodied bodies of at least four men in a rubble-strewn street.
"Where are the Arabs? Where is the international community?" a man's voice yells over women's screams.
The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified. Most foreign journalists have been barred from Syria, making it virtually impossible to confirm claims of either the government or opposition activists.
Violence has escalated in Syria as the government has sent tanks and troops to subdue restive neighborhoods and a growing number of military defectors join the ranks of the opposition.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since March, when major anti-government protests began. The Syrian government says most of the victims of bloodshed have been security force members.
The New York Times contributed to this report.
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