Syria forces continue shelling; Dozens killed

Smoke billows from a destroyed building in the center of the Syrian city of Idlib on Feb.24, 2012. Getty Images

BEIRUT - Activists say troops have resumed heavy shelling of towns and cities in Syria's restive central region a day after reports of 144 more people killed.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said shelling of the central town of Halfaya on Tuesday killed at least four civilians and wounded dozens, many of them seriously. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said 20 people were killed and 100 wounded in the town.

Both groups said the rebel-held neighborhood of Baba Amr in the central city of Homs was under intense shelling. The LCC said 12 people were killed in Homs.

On Monday, the LCC said 144 people were killed across Syria, scores of them in Baba Amr by security forces as they tried to flee. A BBC correspondent inside the northern Idlib province reports that towns and villages around the provincial capital have been surrounded by government forces and are now being subjected to the same battery meted out for weeks on Homs.

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A British journalist wounded in the Syrian government's shelling of a residential area in the central city of Homs has been evacuated by smugglers from the battered city and is now safe across the border in Lebanon, an official with Human Rights Watch tells CBS News.

Paul Conroy, a photographer, was wounded in the same shelling which killed his Sunday Times colleague, veteran American war correspondent Marie Colvin, last Wednesday. French photographer Remi Ochlik also died in the attack.

Human Rights Watch, a non-profit group which has been working to secure safe passage out of Syria for Conroy and another wounded Western journalist, told CBS News of his apparent escape. The Sunday Times, however, said it could not comment on the reports that Conroy had made it out of Syria.

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