Three families massacred in Syria's Homs: activists

BEIRUT - Three entire families, including women and children, were massacred overnight in the flashpoint city of Homs by the Syrian government's security forces and thugs, activists said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 20 dead were from the Ghantawi, Terkawi and Zamel families, who were all gunned down in their homes.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based group, said one family numbered five, including a 15-year-old girl and two other children aged five and seven. Another family had seven members and the third eight.

Abdel Rahman said the three families were shot dead after the regime forces and government-backed militiamen known as Shabiha stormed their homes overnight in the Homs neighbourhoods of Karm el-Zeytoun and Naziheen.

Hadi Abdullah, an activist in Baba Amr reached by satellite phone from Beirut, said the 20 victims had their throats slit.

The reports could not be independently verified as the government has prevented most foreign journalists from entering Syria to cover an unprecedented revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The crackdown on the uprising has been concentrated in recent days on Homs, which has become a main centre of resistance.