Syrian troops stormed a restive neighborhood in Homs on Monday, while the Arab League chief has warned of "disaster" if the violent repression of antigovernment protesters there continues.
Troops were kicking down doors and carrying out mass arrests in Baba Amr, "an area that has spiraled out of government control after nearly a week of deadly assaults," The Associated Press reported.
Over 110 people have reportedly been killed in the past week in Syrian government operations in Homs, many of them in Baba Amr, where anti-government protesters have also reportedly been bolstered by army defectors.
At least eight people died in violence in Homs on Monday, Al Arabiya TV cited Syrian activists as saying. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that security forces had killed 22 protesters Sunday.
Homs, Syria's third-biggest city, was declared a "humanitarian disaster zone" by the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group, which claims that food is running short and that bodies are "putrefying in the streets," The Daily Telegraph reported.
The Council, formed in Istanbul on Oct. 2, has appealed to the U.N. to send "Arab and international observers, instantly, to the city of Homs" to bring an end to the "brutal massacres."
"The regime’s militias and its security forces are using the assistance of the Shabeeha to impose a tight siege on Homs," the council said in a statement today posted on the Facebook pages of activists, using a Syrian term for thugs associated with the government.
The violence prompted the Arab League to call an emergency meeting in Cairo Saturday, though it was unclear what action the league — to which Syria belongs — would take to halt violent repression of the eight-month-old uprising.
Suspension from the league would "be a major symbolic blow to a nation that prides itself on being a powerhouse of Arab nationalism," according to the AP.
League secretary general, Nabil al-Arabi, meanwhile, said that "the failure of the Arab initiative would have disastrous consequences on the situation in Syria and the region as a whole."
British Foreign Minister William Hague, meanwhile, called Monday for "ever-increasing" international pressure, rather than military intervention, to end violence in Syria.
"I don't think the answer to [the repression] now or subsequently would be a military intervention from outside," Hague told reporters in Strasbourg after a meeting of Council of Europe ministers, Agence France-Presse reported.
"We will not be able to apply the same answer in Syria as in Libya," Hague said, describing the situation in Syria as "dramatically more complex" than that in Libya before NATO intervened in March. "I do think however we should apply ever-increasing international pressure to the Assad regime."