As violence rages, Syria holds referendum

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria holds a referendum yesterday on a new constitution, dismissed by the opposition as a charade amid an intensifying crackdown on the 11-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Forces loyal to Assad took the bombardment of rebel-held areas in Homs into a fourth week. Activists say hundreds of people have died in the violence in the central city.

“No one is going to vote. This was a constitution made to Bashar’s tastes and meanwhile we are getting shelled and killed,” said activist Omar, speaking by Skype from the rebel-held Baba Amro district of Homs.

“More than 40 people were killed today and you want us to vote in a referendum? … No one is going to vote.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was still unable to evacuate distressed civilians from embattled Baba Amro. After a day of talks with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters, it said there were “no concrete results”.

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