Syrian Activists Say Troops Continue Deadly Homs Assault

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Syrian activists say government troops have killed dozens of civilians in Homs, continuing a months-long siege of the city that has been a hub of protests against President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

The shelling Wednesday follows days of assaults on Homs that activists say killed hundreds of people. Casualty figures cannot be confirmed because Syria restricts independent reporting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Mr. Assad will push ahead with promised reforms and soon set a date for a referendum on a new constitution aimed at broadening political participation.

Speaking after meeting with the Syrian president in Damascus, Lavrov said Mr. Assad supports expanding an Arab League monitoring mission and is ready for dialogue with the opposition.

Efforts by the Arab League and Russia to organize talks have been rejected by Syrian opposition groups angered by the Assad government's deadly crackdown on the 11-month-old uprising.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday it is hard to believe Mr. Assad's latest reform pledges..

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