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Syria death toll passes 8,000 as Assad's regime claims 90 pct referendum victory

Damascus, Tue, 28 Feb 2012 ANI

Damascus, Feb 28 (ANI): The death toll in Syria's 11-month uprising has passed the 8,000 mark as the President Bashar al-Assad-led regime widens its artillery offensive against opposition groups, despite claiming to have secured overwhelming support through a nationwide referendum to change the country's constitution.


According to opposition activists, Assad's forces have once again shelled the restive city of Homs.


They claimed that at least 64 people has been killed in the besieged Bab Amr district, which has been devastated by a relentless onslaught for the past 24 days.


Four other districts of the city were also targeted, while army units advanced towards the nearby Qusayr, another town, that is effectively under the control of rebel units loosely operating under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.


As the violence raged, Assad's officials claimed that the president had received an overwhelming mandate to pursue his reform programme after almost 90 percent of voters approved a new constitution in a referendum held on Sunday, The Telegraph reports.


Opposition groups had called a boycott of the vote, although Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar claimed a turnout of 57.4 per cent.


According to the report, Western politicians have dismissed the referendum as a sham.


Sunni Arab countries stepped up their pressure for a more robust international response to the crisis as opposition groups placed the death toll of the uprising at between 8,036 and 8,638.


Meanwhile, Qatar joined Saudi Arabia in demanding that arms be sent to the Syrian opposition.


"I think they're right to defend themselves with weapons and I think we should help these people by all means," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, Qatar's Prime Minister, said. (ANI)


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