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Violence escalates in Syria's Homs province

(Xinhua)

08:16, February 10, 2012

DAMASCUS, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The situation in Syria's restive Homs bodes ill as the unabated violence continued on Thursday in several hotspots across the unrest-torn province.

Private Sham FM radio said Thursday that armed groups took over several mosques in Homs and fired on law-enforcement forces from the minarets.

Meanwhile, Syria's private media cited sources as saying that Abdul-Razzq Tlas, a defected first lieutenant, was killed in Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs after severe clashes with the Syrian army.

On the opposition side, The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, has reportedly said around 127 people were killed across Syria on Thursday, 108 of them killed in Homs alone.

The opposition's account cannot be confirmed as journalists are forbidden to travel to restive areas on their own.

Clashes have intensified lately in Homs between troops loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and armed militia allegedly comprising army defectors.

The region is considered one of Syria's most volatile areas, as the daily grind of violence stocked fears that the central region has been sliding toward a civil war.

The Syrian government said more than 2,000 army and security personnel have been killed during the months-long unrest, while the United Nations put the death toll in the country at more than 5,400.

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