Four children were among seven civilians killed in shelling by regime forces of the mainly opposition-held city of Rastan in central Syria on Sunday, a monitoring group said.
The victims included six family members killed when a rocket slammed into their home, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which reported intensive shelling of Rastan since daybreak.
“Seven people, six of them family members and including a woman and four children, were killed when a rocket hit a house in Rastan,” said Abdel Rahman, whose watchdog earlier gave a death toll of three.
Abdel Rahman told AFP that “positions of deserters in the north of Rastan have been subject to intensive shelling.”
Free Syrian Army chief Riad al-Asaad has denied that regimes forces were in control of Homs entirely
He said opposition forces had withdrawn in some parts of city to avoid heavy casualties among the civilians.
Army deserters were routed from the Baba Amr district of the nearby city of Homs on Thursday and had since been bracing for an onslaught on Rastan and Qusayr, another town near Homs, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
The Red Cross delivered aid to areas around the battered Baba Amro district of the Syrian city of Homs on Sunday, but was blocked from entering the former rebel stronghold itself, three days after anti-government fighters fled a month-long siege.
In a further indication civilians were being caught up in the conflict, up to 2,000 Syrians fled into neighboring Lebanon, the U.N. Refugee Agency said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had been prevented from entering Baba Amro by Syrian ground forces despite receiving government permission, a move activists said was to prevent aid workers witnessing army “massacres”.
“We have the green light, we hope to enter, we hope today is the day,” said the ICRC’s Damascus-based spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh, declining to give further details about what he said were sensitive talks with Syrian officials.
“We are very concerned about the people in Baba Amro.”
After a month of bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, concerns mounted for freezing, hungry and wounded civilians in Homs, which on Saturday had come under renewed shelling by government troops, anti-Assad activists said.