Activists talk of ‘bloodbath’

IF activists’ accounts are accurate, the bombardment of Homs on Friday night was one of the bloodiest episodes of the Arab Spring uprisings sweeping the region and the deadliest incident in the Syrian conflict.

Syrian activist groups gave varying tolls above 200 killed, saying tanks and artillery blasted the Khalidiya neighbourhood of Homs.

Rami Abdullrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said he had a list of 128 names of people confirmed killed, which he said accounted for about half of the total death toll.

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Damascus denies firing on houses and says images of dead bodies posted on the internet were staged.

State television yesterday showed live footage of Mr Assad praying with Sunni Muslim clerics and listening to Koranic verses in a Damascus mosque to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad.

Much of the opposition to Mr Assad is rooted in the Sunni majority, some of whose members resent the wide influence of members of Mr Assad’s minority Alawite sect.