Feb 17 - Troops continue to attack rebel-held areas in Homs while China sends a special envoy to Syria to discuss the crisis. Sunita Rappai reports.
Shells land near this mosque in Homs, Syria - framing it in a plume of black smoke. This amateur video footage - which Reuters cannot independently verify - shows heavy shelling near the Juri mosque as the sounds of explosions ring out through the neighbourhood. Homs is the heart of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule. Assad's crackdown on the opposition was condemned by a United Nations General Assembly resolution on Thursday which called for Syrian troops to withdraw from towns and cities. The resolution was opposed by China, amongst others, which has so far been left out of a special meeting of international powers in Tunis next week to discuss the crisis. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Beijing had not yet received an invitation to the February 24 meeting. But Beijing is sending a special envoy to Damascus to step up talks to end the crisis. (SOUNDBITE)(Mandarin) CHINESE VICE FOREIGN MINISTER AND SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA SAYING: "We call on the Syrian government to listen to the people's legitimate desire for reforms and development. We also call on all the political parties in Syria to express their political wills through legal and non-violent means." The UN resolution, also blocked by Russia, was drafted by Saudi Arabia and submitted by Egypt on behalf of Arab states. Sunita Rappai, Reuters