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Arab League monitors due in Syria as violence escalates

Activists have claimed that between 13 and 20 people have been killed in the city of Homs today.

Image: Muzaffar Salman/AP/Press Association Images

LOCAL ACTIVIST GROUPS have claimed that 20 people have died in a shelling in the city of Homs in Syria today, reports Sky News today.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told The Telegraph: “The shells fired from heavy machineguns in the Baba Amro district caused 13 deaths on Monday morning and dozens of injuries. The situation is frightening and the shelling is the most intense of the last three days.”

The escalation in violence comes a day ahead of Arab League monitors’ arrival in the country. The observers are being allowed entry as part of a peace plan agreed by Bashar Assad’s government and the Arab League.

The deal aims to broker peace in the country which has been torn apart in the past nine months by a violent crackdown on a popular uprising against the current regime.

The League requires the government to remove its security forces and heavy weapons from city streets, start talks with opposition leaders and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.

The observers are due to leave Cairo this evening to ensure that the government is following through with all of its promises. About fifty monitors are being deployed in teams of ten in five areas of the country.

However, the Opposition remains sceptical about the agreement warning that Assad’s government, which has been besieging the Baba Amr district in the city of Homs for days, is preparing for a massive assault on the area.

The Assad family has ruled in Syria for the past four decades.

Yesterday, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said 13 people were killed on Christmas Day. Three of the dead were children, said the LCCS.

Five people were reportedly killed in Deir Ezzor, another five in Homs and one each in Aleppo, Hama and Nawa, Daraa.

In Homs, heavy weapons were used to continuously shell the city, said the activist group.

Verifying reports is impossible as independent journalists are not allowed into the country. However, videos purporting to show the bodies of those killed during the heavy bombings have appeared across YouTube.

Destroyed homes and cars, as well as men shouting for help can be seen on the videos.

The UN has said that 5,000 people have died in Syria since protests – and subsequent crackdown – began in March.

-Additional reporting by AP

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