Activists: Syrian warplanes pound Homs

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BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes and artillery pounded the central city of Homs today, subjecting the rebel stronghold to its heaviest bombardment in months, activists said.

Homs has been one of the flashpoints of the 18-month old uprising against Assad’s regime. The focus of fighting has shifted to other areas in recent months, including Aleppo, since a government offensive against rebel strongholds in Homs slowed down in April.

In another development, an activist said rebels captured an air defense base in the Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus earlier this week.

A video showed dozens of gunmen outside a building where smoke is billowing. One of the gunmen says that a “missile air defense battalion” was captured. Another clip showed missiles inside a room.

The rebels did not give any other evidence that would confirm the seizure of the base, or identify the location of the video. If confirmed, the capture of a stock of working anti-aircraft missiles would be a boost to a lightly armed force that says it faces frequent attacks by low-flying helicopters and warplanes.

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