Syria stays in the grip of violence
Beirut - Syrian troops on Monday bombarded restive areas in the province of Homs with heavy artillery, and stormed areas near the capital Damascus, activists said, a day after the Arab League vowed to support the opposition.
"The Syrian troops are heavily bombarding the area of Rastan [in Homs] with heavy artillery, hitting residential areas in the city," said Hani Abdullah, a Syrian activist based in Damascus.
Since the early hours of the morning, troops had been storming areas near the capital, and arrested men and women in the Damascus suburb that witnessed anti-regime protests last week, he added.
The United Nations General Assembly is due to discuss the country's human rights situation in New York on Monday.
Arab League foreign ministers called on Sunday on the United Nations Security Council to form a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping force to observe a ceasefire in Syria, in the latest attempt to end the bloodshed and stop the country from sliding into a full-blown civil war.
Damascus blasted the Arab League's decision, saying it is not concerned with any decisions taken while it is absent. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in the 22-member bloc in November.
Al-Qaeda blamed for bombings
On Sunday, the Arab League also vowed to provide "political and financial support" to the Syrian opposition.
The meeting came after al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called on Muslims to support the Syrian rebels in their 11-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian regime has accused "terrorists" of being behind the uprising that started against Assad in mid-March.
The government has also blamed al-Qaeda for several bombings in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, in which almost 100 people died.
The United Nations estimated in January that more than 5 400 people had been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. But the UN stopped counting when the violence escalated, saying it was too difficult to verify numbers.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which regularly updates the number of casualties, says more than 7 200 people have died.