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Syrian elections overshadowed by unrest

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 02:00

Dec. 12 - Opposition groups say Syrian forces are targeting civilians in Homs while Damascus insists the military has come under attack by armed gangs. Deborah Gembara reports.

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A column of thick black smoke could be seen darkening the sky over Homs -- the front line for the Syrian government's crackdown on opposition groups. This video posted to a social media website that Reuters cannot independently verify show streets littered with debris and buildings pockmarked with bullet holes. At this makeshift hospital, medics say they are treating civilians targeted by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The government denies the claim, insisting the military has come under attack by armed gangs. The clashes have overshadowed local elections taking place throughout the country. Activists have derided the vote as irrelevant in light of the unrest that has gripped Syria for months. Mounting international concern about the turmoil in Syria is being compounded by the U.S. troop withdrawal in neighboring Iraq. Many fear a possible power vacuum could embolden Assad. Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Washington, President Obama acknowledged differing views regarding Syria. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: We may disagree tactically believe that international pressure, reflected by sanctions Damascus has downplayed the anti-government protests in Syria and claims foreign powers and not Syrians are driving the unrest. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.

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Syrian elections overshadowed by unrest

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 02:00