BEIRUT (AP) -- Activists say more than 50 people have been killed today across Syria, even as diplomats from more than 60 nations met in Tunisia to ask the U.N. to start planning for a civilian peacekeeping mission there in the event of a ceasefire.
They say at least 22 people died as President Bashar Assad's forces pounded areas held by rebels in central Syria.
Thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of towns to stage anti-regime protests on behalf of the embattled neighborhood in the city of Homs that has become the center of the Syrian revolt.
They condemned the positions of Russia, China and Iran -- countries whose governments have stood by the Assad regime.
A Red Cross spokesman says the group has evacuated seven people from the neighborhood in Homs that has been targeted by government shelling. They were taken to a hospital elsewhere in the city.
In Tunisia, representatives of the U.S., Europe and Arab nations were still unwilling to commit to military intervention to end the bloodshed, offering only the threat of increasing isolation and sanctions.
Today, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan was appointed as the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy on the Syrian crisis.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)