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In Syria, More Shelling and Deadlier Weapons

June 11, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Next to Syria, where violence is spiking in the 15-month conflict, as both sides turn to increasingly lethal weapons.

Activists in the Syrian city of Homs posted this video today, rows of the wounded seeking help at a school-turned-makeshift-treatment-center. For many, it was also a refuge.

WOMAN (through translator): They shell the people. The injured are in a school. This is all the medical aid that we have. The injured cannot be sent to the hospitals. There are no doctors and no specialists.

GWEN IFILL: Outside, smoke drifted into the morning sky, evidence of continued shelling in Homs, which reportedly killed 38 people on Sunday. Dozens more died today, as fighting spread nationwide, in what looks increasingly like civil war.

Opposition groups spoke of intensified shelling across Homs and Hama and in the northern province of Aleppo. The suburbs of Damascus, Daraa to the South, and Deir el-Zour in the east were said to be under government fire as well.

Kofi Annan, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, said in a statement he is gravely concerned. He demanded that U.N. military observers be allowed into the coastal town of al-Haffa, where large numbers of civilians are believed to be trapped. That’s given rise to fears of a new massacre.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there’s no telling what the Syrian regime might do.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department spokeswoman: What government voluntarily uses helicopters and fires from them on their own civilians if they are not desperate? What government depends on a bunch of thugs in trucks, irregulars if they are not desperate? So, clearly, the government is under threat.

GWEN IFILL: Indeed, Syrian helicopter gunships launched an aerial attack today on the rebel-held town of Rastan, north of Homs. Opposition groups said government forces face growing losses on the ground. So, they’re resorting to airstrikes instead. That comes amid reports that the rebels are stepping up attacks with anti-tank missiles, a sign of their improved military capability.