Syria rebels launch surprise dawn assault in Homs
DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria insurgents launched a surprise dawn raid on Sunday to retake a key district of the central city of Homs, as Islamists set up a religious council to administer rebel-held areas of the oil-rich east.
The assault on Baba Amr district came as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned that the number of Syrian refugees, which has already passed the million mark, could double or triple by the end of the year.
Activists said the raid sparked fierce fighting on the ground and saw President Bashar al-Assad's forces call in air strikes in a bid to repulse the rebel fighters.
They said the attack was a bid to take pressure off other rebel-held areas following the launch last week of a widescale army offensive in Homs, which has been dubbed 'capital of the revolution' against Assad's forces.