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Syrian forces continue shelling rebel stronghold

Soldiers loyal to President Assad have been bombarding Homs, a prominent rebel stronghold, despite Red Cross appeals.

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Both journalists had sneaked into Syria illegally to try to get an eyewitness view of the government crackdown in the country. They died on Feb. 22 in shelling that also wounded Edith Bouvier of the daily Le Figaro and British photographer Paul Conroy.

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Turkey's foreign minister said a lack of international consensus over Syria is emboldening the government there to proceed with its crackdown.

Ahmet Davutoglu said the scale of the killing matches the bloodshed in the Balkans wars of the 1990s, and described the Syrian regime's actions as a "crime against humanity."

Davutoglu spoke Saturday at a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart, Giulio Terzi.

Both ministers criticized Syria for blocking the Red Cross convoy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to give humanitarian workers immediate access to people who desperately need aid.

"The images which we have seen in Syria are atrocious," said Ban. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How, as a human being, can you bear this situation?"

In other violence Saturday, a suicide car bomb exploded in Daraa, killing at least two people and wounding 20, activists said. The state-run news agency said the blast occurred at a roundabout in an area known as Daraa al-Balad and said there were casualties including civilians and security forces.

It blamed "terrorists" for the attack. But residents taking part in the funeral of the two on Saturday blamed the regime. "They were killed by an explosion prepared by the Assad gang," a banner read.

During the funeral procession, which was shown live online, a crowd of people cried: "Death rather than humiliation," and "We will take our revenge from Maher and Bashar," a reference to Bashar Assad's younger brother Maher, who is believed to be leading the crackdown against the opposition.

Daraa is the birthplace of the nearly year-old uprising against Assad. The revolt has killed more than 7,500 people, according to the most recent U.N. estimate.

Syria has seen a string of suicide bombings, the last on Feb. 10, when twin blasts struck security compounds in the government stronghold city of Aleppo, killing 28 people and bringing significant violence for the first time to the city.

The capital Damascus, another Assad stronghold, has seen three suicide bombings in the past two months.

The regime has touted the attacks as proof that it is being targeted by "terrorists." The opposition accuses forces loyal to the government of being behind the bombings to tarnish the uprising.

Saturday's bombing in Daraa marked the first time a suicide bombing struck an opposition stronghold.

Clashes also were reported in the village of Hirak in Daraa province, and in the northern Idlib province. The Local Coordination Committees said 20 people were killed across Syria Monday, in addition to the two in the Daraa bombing.

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