Children among 74 dead in 2 days of Syrian turmoil

This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and released on Friday Jan. 27, 2012, purports to show the bodies of five Syrian children wrapped in plastic bags, with signs in Arabic identifying them by name. Activists say the children were killed in a shelling attack by Syrian forces, in the Karm el-Zaytoun neighborhood of Homs, Syria, on Thursday Jan. 26, 2012 A "terrifying massacre" in the restive Syrian city of Homs has killed more than 30 people, including small children, in a barrage of mortar fire and attacks by armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, activists said Friday. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)

BEIRUTTwo days of bloody turmoil in Syria killed at least 74 people, including small children, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad shelled residential buildings and fired on crowds in a dramatic escalation of violence, activists said Friday.

Video posted online showed the bodies of five small children, five women and a man, all bloodied and piled on beds in what appeared to be an apartment after a building was hit in the city of Homs. A narrator said an entire family had been "slaughtered."

Much of the violence was focused in Homs, where heavy gunfire hammered the city Friday in a second day of chaos. A day earlier, the city saw a flare-up of sectarian kidnappings and killings between its Sunni and Alawite communities, and pro-regime forces blasted residential buildings with mortars and gunfire, according to activists.

At least 384 children have been killed, as of Jan. 7, in the crackdown on Syria`s uprising since it began nearly 11 months ago, the U.N. children`s agency UNICEF said Friday. The count, based on reports from human rights groups, included children under age 18.

Most of the deaths took place in Homs and most of the victims were boys, UNICEF said. It said 380 children have been detained, including some under age 14. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have died in the turmoil.

The U.N. Security Council met in a closed-door session to discuss the crisis, which diplomats said was a step toward a possible U.N. resolution against the Damascus regime.

However, any resolution faces strong opposition from China and Russia, and both nations have veto power. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Friday that Moscow will oppose any resolution because it does not exclude the possibility of outside military interference.

The Syrian uprising, which began last March with mostly peaceful protests, has become increasingly violent in recent months as army defectors clash with government forces and some protesters take up arms to protect themselves. The violence has inflamed the sectarian divide in the country, where members of Assad`s Alawite sect dominate the regime despite a Sunni Muslim majority.

Activists said at least 35 people were killed in Homs on Thursday and another 39 people were killed across the country Friday.

The video posted Friday by activists showed the bodies of five young children, their faces bloodied, wrapped in orange plastic bags. It said the children were believed to be from two families, the Akras and the Bahadours. Brown cardboard placards with the children`s names written in Arabic were placed on their chests, identifying them: Thanaa, Ali, Najm, Abdul-Ghani and Sidra.

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