The Syrian city of Homs has endured the worst government assault in several months, according to a watchdog. The opposition has hit back with attacks and protests.
Syrian warplanes bombed the rebel-held city of Homs on Friday in the most intense bombardment that the city has witnessed for five months, according to monitors.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said tanks, mortars and aircraft had battered Khaldiya, a neighborhood in the city. It was not clear whether there had been any casualties.
The Syrian army also assaulted rebel seats in Aleppo, Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Idlib and Latakia, the Observatory reported.
Rebel fighters responded by shooting down a regime helicopter gunship in Damascus province and taking control of an army checkpoint outside Deir Ezzor, located in eastern Syria, killing at least a dozen troops, said the watchdog.
An undeterred opposition
"Allahu akbar! (God is greatest). The helicopter is falling!" a youth shouted as an aircraft was seen falling from the sky in a ball of flames on amateur video footage, which opposition posted online.
Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians came out to demonstrate across the country, calling for the opposing Free Syrian Army to be armed, and fiercely criticizing the international community for their lack of action.
More than 30,000 have died in the Syrian uprising since it began in March 2011, according to activists.
sej/tj (AFP, AP)