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BEIRUT - Security forces killed at least 10 people in fighting across Syria on Tuesday, activists said, in a 14-month-old revolt that the Red Cross and Arab League warned was becoming a civil war.
Across Syria, clashes between state forces and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad raged overnight and flared again on Tuesday afternoon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Despite a shaky truce, the carnage in Syria has not stopped even after a parliamentary poll on Monday which the government promoted as a milestone on its path to reform, but the opposition called a sham and boycotted the vote.
As election officials counted votes on Tuesday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said fighting had been so intense in some parts of Syria that at times the conflict in those places qualified as a localized civil war.
Jakob Kellenberger said he was very worried about conditions in Syria, where United Nations observers are being deployed to monitor a ceasefire agreement that has been repeatedly violated by both state forces and by rebels.
"I really hope that the UN observers will deploy rapidly," he told reporters in Geneva, indicating concern for the fate of UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan for Syria. "I still hope it will not fail."
Beyond the ceasefire and monitoring mission, Annan's plan also calls for free access for journalists and humanitarian aid in the country. So far, 50 of some 300 monitors have arrived with the whole team expected to be assembled by the end of May.
On Tuesday, the British-based Observatory said security forces were using rockets and heavy machinegun fire on the village of al-Hassan in the rebellious central Homs province, as they sought to wrest control from rebels in the area.
What began as a peaceful protest movement has been overtaken by an armed insurgency against Syrian forces. The government says the rebels are terrorists steered by foreign powers and says more than 2,600 people from the police and army have been killed.
Activists insisted the numbers were inflated. "I went to three different polling stations, I am telling you turnout was weak," said a student called Tamim. "No one can believe in an election while people are dying."