Syrian regime forces widened their offensive against opposition strongholds throughout the country today, thursday with heavy weaponry as they attacked several rebel cities, including Homs and Hama. The violence killed at least 22 people.
According to Amnesty International, at least 377 civilians, including 29 children, have been killed in Homs since February the 4th. Hundreds of people suffered serious injuries in that city.
Furthermore, north, in Hama, four civilians and 10 deserters were killed in shelling by the Assad forces.
In Deraa, the cradle of the revolt in the south, a civilian was shot dead by troops and three soldiers were killed in clashes with army deserters, opposition activists said.
Meanwhile, Russia will not support the draft resolution on Syria that will be voted by the UN General Assembly thursday, if it is "unfair" in its current form, according to a Russian source quoted by Interfax news agency. "The draft in its current form is inequitable and does not take into consideration our position," said the anonymous source, without further details. Earlier, it was reported that Moscow has requested several amendments to the text.
The Assembly is to vote thursday afternoon in New York on a draft resolution condemning repression in Syria about two weeks after Moscow and Beijing vetoed a resolution with a similar text at the Security Council.
One amendment the Russian side requested to omit, is to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives his powers to his Vice President. Moscow opposes any regime change imposed by foreign elements.
Moscow also insists on recognizing the responsibility of the opposition to some of the violence. The adoption of the draft is likely but its importance is symbolic.
The Russian requests came after a meeting in Vienna between the French foreign minister Alain Juppe and his Russian peer Sergei Lavrov who discussed the French proposal to create "humanitarian corridors." The meeting ended without making any statement.
Moreover, Al Hayat newspaper quoted diplomatic sources as saying that arming the Syrian opposition is now officially an option for the Arab League following the recent decision by the Ministerial Council which stated that the Arabs are ready to "provide all means of political and material support" to the opposition. The sources said that this decision allows the supply of weapons.
Separately, a Jordanian newspaper reported that the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the kingdom, Dr. Hammam Said, confirmed that fighting against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is a "religious duty". He explained that this duty "requires the support of all Muslims to the free Syrian army.
On his part, radical Salafi cleric Omar Bakri of Syria on Thursday denied allegations that his group and al-Qaeda will join forces against the Syrian regime saying al-Qaeda isn't active in Syria to begin with.
“The tyrannical Syrian regime is so desperate as to place the blame on al-Qaeda and Salafi Jihadist movements for what is happening in Syria and none of those are in Syria anyway. The Syrian regime is lying,” Bakri told al-Arabiya TV
UPDATEThe United Nations General Assembly has adopted an Arab League-sponsored resolution on Syria for the government's crackdown on opposition protests. 137 members of the UN voted in favor of the resolution while 12 members including Russia and China voted against the measure, Arab news reported.