Syrian City Under Siege as U.N. Urges Action

BEIRUT -- Syrian soldiers opened fire in and around the rebellious city of Homs on Tuesday, killing two people, including a teenager, as the U.N. secretary-general urged the world to take action on Syria.

Also, the bodies of five unidentified people, including a woman, were found around the city center, activists said.

Ban Ki-moon delivered some of his strongest statements condemning the violence, saying President Bashar Assad must take "bold and decisive measures before it's too late."

"It's already too late, in fact," Ban said in New Zealand, where he was attending a meeting of Pacific leaders. "If it takes more and more days, then more people will be killed."

The U.N. says 2,200 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March, inspired by other revolutions sweeping the Arab world. Nearly six months later, the unrest in Syria has descended into a bloody stalemate with neither side willing to back down.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday an unspecified number of wounded Syrian detainees aren't getting the urgent medical care they need.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger spoke after his Geneva-based group's visit to a Syrian prison over the weekend, the first time it has been granted such access in more than 40 years of operating in the country.

Kellenberger met with Assad Monday and won permission to visit Damascus Central Prison, where the Red Cross says Syrian authorities estimated about 6,000 detainees are being held.

On Tuesday, the Syrian activist network known as The Local Coordination Committees and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two people, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed when security forces opened fire from a checkpoint south of the town of Rastan, near Homs.

A longtime political activist in Homs also said five unidentified bodies, including that of a woman, were found dumped around the city center. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Homs has seen some of the largest protests against the regime. Citing witnesses on the ground, the LCC activist network said armored vehicles were rolling through the city and "shooting toward anything moving."

Syria has banned foreign journalists and restricted local media during the revolt, which poses the most serious challenge to the Assad family's four-decade rule.

Activist accounts and videos posted online are vital sources of information, but it is nearly impossible to independently confirm the reports.

The regime blames the unrest on thugs and armed gangs and claims security forces are the real victims, not true reform-seekers.

The government's violent crackdown on dissent has led to broad international sanctions aimed at isolating the regime.

France said Tuesday the European countries are working on a new set of economic sanctions against Syria.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters the sanctions would likely target companies "that are in some way linked to this somber daily situation of repression against those demonstrating in Syria."

The EU already has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime, including a ban on the import of Syrian oil.