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12 killed as Homs attack continues

At least 12 people have been killed as Syrian troops shelled parts of the city of Homs, striking a makeshift medical clinic and residential areas, activists said.

The bloodshed came one day after President Bashar Assad's government vowed to continue its crackdown on a nearly 11-month-old uprising that has become one of the deadliest of the Arab Spring. The activist reports could not be independently confirmed.

Homs - which many refer to as "the capital of the Syrian revolution" - has become a flashpoint of the uprising against Assad. Several areas of the city, such as Baba Amr, are under the control of rebel army defectors.

On Saturday, Syrian forces killed up to 200 people in Homs - the highest death toll reported for a single day in the uprising - according to several rights groups.

The Local Co-ordination Committees activist group said the latest bombardment hit a makeshift clinic in the tense neighbourhood of Baba Amr, causing casualties. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 12 people were killed across the city.

Omar Shaker, an activist in Baba Amr, said a paramedic was wounded in the shelling of the clinic and two people who were standing outside were killed instantly. He added that many volunteers at the hospital were injured as well as people receiving treatment.

Syria's state-run TV denied that government forces were besieging the area, saying activists in the city were setting tyres on fire to make it appear as if there was a bombardment. Syria has banned independent reporting and largely sealed off trouble spots, making it difficult to confirm accounts from either side.

Activists say they fear that the decision by Russia and China on Saturday to block a UN Security Council resolution on Syria will embolden Mr Assad's regime. Some fear that Syria's turmoil will move into even a more dangerous new phase which could degenerate into outright civil war.

On Sunday, the commander of rebel soldiers said force was now the only way to oust Mr Assad, while the regime vowed to continue its military crackdown to bring back stability to the country.

"We did not sleep all night," Majd Amer, another activist in Homs, said by telephone. Explosions could be heard in the background. "The regime is committing organised crimes."

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