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At least dead in Syria clashes

Black smoke envelopes parts of Homs, Syria, on Thursday. The reason for the smoke is the subject of various claims at this time, according to the Associated Press.

Associated Press/SANA

Black smoke envelopes parts of Homs, Syria, on Thursday. The reason for the smoke is the subject of various claims at this time, according to the Associated Press.

Syrian forces fired on funeral processions and clashed with army defectors Saturday, killing at least 12 people as France called on the international community to "save the Syrian people."

The 9-month-old uprising against Syria's authoritarian President Bashar Assad has grown increasingly violent in recent months as once-peaceful protesters take up arms and rebel soldiers fight back against the army.

Some of the worst bloodshed has been in Homs, the central city that has emerged as the epicenter of the revolt, and there are concerns that a renewed assault could be imminent.

In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry said France was "deeply concerned" and warned Syrian authorities that they will be held responsible for any action against the population.

"The entire international community must mobilize to save the Syrian people," the statement said.

Despite the relentless bloodshed, Assad has refused to buckle to the pressure to step down and has shown no signs of easing his crackdown. The United Nations estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed in the military assault on dissent since March.

Syria has banned most foreign journalists and prevented local reporters from moving freely. Accounts from activists and witnesses, along with amateur videos posted online, provide key channels of information.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordinating Committees collected the death toll and other details of Saturday's bloodshed using a network of sources on the ground.

The groups said security forces fired on several funeral processions and that there were fierce clashes between soldiers and army defectors. Many of the dead were in Homs.

International military intervention, such as the NATO action in Libya that helped topple longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, is all but out of the question in Syria, in part because of fears that the move could spread chaos across the Middle East.

But the international community has pressured Assad in other ways, primarily through sanctions. The Arab League has imposed economic sanctions and travel bans to try to end the violence, adding to measures already taken by the U.S., European Union, Turkey and others.

At least dead in Syria clashes 12/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 10:09pm]

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