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Ominous signs in Homs amid reports that Syrian tanks are rolling in

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Local Coordination Committees in Syria/AP

(Read caption) In this Feb. 20 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, houses are seen destroyed from Syrian government forces shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria. Homs, particularly the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Baba Amr, has been pounded for weeks with artillery and mortars.

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Homs, particularly the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Baba Amr, has been pounded for weeks with artillery and mortars. Now, it appears that Syria's Bashar al-Assad is moving to phase two.

Reuters reports that an elite unit commanded by one of Assad's brothers is moving tanks into position in the city. While not yet independently confirmed, moving tanks and infantry in the "softening up" that's taken place with the hundreds killed in recent weeks was always on the cards. While not confirming the tank assault, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports a pause in the shelling of Baba Amr for most of the day.

If it is happening, Homs' people are probably in store for more horrors. They have braved weeks of sniper fire and mortar attacks. Residents have been killed while out scavenging for food, infants and children have been killed by mortar strikes on their homes. Dealing with sniper fire on the streets has become the new normal (have a look at the video below, in which a blase Homsi jokes about his ruined city while a sniper takes cracks at cars and pedestrians hustling down the street).

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