61 killed in Syria violence
BEIRUT REGIME forces killed 45 civilians in Syria on Saturday, while 16 soldiers died in explosions and clashes with rebels, a monitoring group said.
Among the civilians, 19 were killed in the flashpoint city of Homs, as a rebel stronghold there is shelled for the 22nd straight day.
Regime artillery targeted the rebel-held district of Baba Amr, and opened fire on the inner city quarters of Khaldiyeh and Hamidiyeh, as well as Bab Dreib and Bab Tadmur.
Meanwhile, Syrians will vote in a referendum on Sunday on a new constitution which President Bashar al Assad says will pave the way for a multi-party parliamentary election within three months.
Authorities say 14.6 million of Syria’s 23 million people are eligible to vote.
In Istanbul, Turkey offered to host the second meeting of the Friends of Syria group, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Istanbul on Saturday.
The offer to host the next meeting was welcomed by UN General Assembly President HE Nassir Abdulaziz al Nasser, who was also speaking at the Istanbul Conference on Mediation. He also welcomed the appointment of former UN secretarygeneral Kofi Annan as joint special envoy on the Syrian crisis for the United Nations and the Arab League.