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More killed in Syria despite Assad's pledge

Syrian security forces fired on protesters Saturday in the central province of Homs, killing two people and wounding at least eight, as President Bashar Assad pushed ahead with a brutal crackdown despite assurances to the U.N. chief last week that the military operations have ended.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces fatally shot two people Saturday in the town of Rastan, near the provincial capital of Homs, including well-known activist Mahmoud Ayoub who organized anti-regime protests.

The group said the troops also wounded at least eight people Saturday in Homs, where a general strike was under way to protest the crackdown and most of the city's markets were closed.

The government dispatched reinforcements Saturday to Homs, Syria's third-largest city and the site of intense anti-regime protests, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the London-based Observatory. "Shooting has not stopped since last night," Abdul-Rahman said.

The latest casualties, along with 29 people who activists said were fatally shot Friday in different locations across the country, suggest Assad is unwilling to stop the violence or not fully in control of his own regime.

Apart from Homs, the offensive has focused on the coastal city of Latakia, the eastern city of Deir el-Zour and the central flash point city of Hama.

Activists reported a wave of arrests Saturday in Latakia, adding that authorities were cleaning up the al-Ramel neighborhood after a four-day military operation earlier this week. A United Nations team was expected to visit Latakia today.