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Troops bombard rebel neighbourhood

Syrian troops have fired mortar rounds at a rebel-held neighbourhood in the central city of Homs in apparent preparation to storm the area, activists say.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who is head of the British-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the heavily-populated Khaldiyeh neighbourhood has been shelled since early on Saturday.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, another activist group, posted a video on its Facebook page showing smoke billowing from a residential area it said was in Khaldiyeh.

The neighbourhood, one of Homs' largest, has been under rebel control for months.

Homs has seen some of the heaviest fighting in Syria's year-long uprising. Government forces crushed a rebel stronghold in Baba Amr neighbourhood on March 1.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordination Committees also say troops have stormed the north-western town of Saraqeb amid intense shelling.

The Observatory said at least one civilian was killed in the attack.

The groups said troops, accompanied by scores of pro-government gunmen known as shabiha, are raiding homes and detaining people.

Saraqeb, in the northern province of Idlib that borders Turkey, has been held by army defectors for months.

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