Syria’s Assad Sets Referendum Date

    Image #: 16923255    Black smoke is seen from Homs refinery February 15, 2012. An explosion hit a major oil pipeline feeding a refinery in Homs, sending a large plume of smoke rising into the sky, witnesses said. The blast hit the pipeline near a district being shelled by government troops, they said.  REUTERS/Handout (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS BUSINESS ENERGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)      REUTERS /LANDOV

    Reuters / Landov

    President Bashar al-Assad says Syria will hold a referendum on a new constitution on Feb. 26, but even as he made this seeming concession, his forces increased their bombardment of opposition towns. Assad had said in January that the referendum would take place in March, but it's unclear how anyone could vote amid the worsening crackdown. The shelling of Homs is now in its 13th day, and regime forces raided Hama, firing on residential neighborhoods with anti-aircraft guns. Assad's forces even raided neighborhoods in Damascus. France is negotiating a new U.N. resolution that would create humanitarian corridors to aid civilians caught up in the violence.

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