Syrian forces mass outside rebel stronghold - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Syrian forces mass outside rebel stronghold

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian troops and tanks are gathering outside the city of Homs, a stronghold of the anti-government forces there.

An activist is warning that a government assault on the city could bring a new round of fierce urban combat. The head of a British-based activist group says if the military tries to retake a neighborhood that is in the hands of the anti-government forces, "the human loss is going to be huge."

The city of Homs -- and the opposition district in particular -- have become critical territory for both sides.

Assad's regime wants to erase the embarrassing defiance in Syria's third-largest city after weeks of shelling, including a barrage of mortars that killed up to 200 people earlier this month.

The opposition compares Homs to the Libyan city of Misrata, where rebels fought off a brutal government siege.

The Red Cross, meanwhile, is trying to arrange a cease-fire so that emergency aid can be brought in. Red Cross officials say they aren't trying to resolve the issues behind the 11-month-old uprising. Instead, they're just looking for a way to get aid into areas hardest-hit by the fighting.

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