Briefly: Middle East

SYRIA

Fresh violence erupts, U.N. warns of civil war

BEIRUT — Syrian forces Tuesday renewed their assault on the city of Homs in what activists described as the heaviest shelling in days, as the U.N. human rights chief raised fears of civil war.

Troops loyal to President Bashar Assad have shelled Homs for more than a week to retake parts of the city captured by rebels. Hundreds are believed to have been killed since Saturday, and the humanitarian conditions in the city have worsened.

Homs was under “brutal shelling” Tuesday, the Local Coordination Committees activist group said, citing its network of witnesses.

Another activist group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said it was the heaviest shelling in days.

With diplomatic efforts bogged down, the conflict in Syria is taking on the dimensions of a civil war, with army defectors clashing almost daily with soldiers.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay warned Monday that the Security Council’s failure to act has emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault.

MOROCCO

Moroccan gets 3 years for anti-king video

RABAT — A Moroccan court has convicted a student of “violating the sacred values” of the kingdom and sentenced him to three years in prison after a video posted online showed him criticizing the king, the state news agency reported Tuesday.

In the 4-minute clip, Abdelsamad Haydour, 24, from the mountain town of Taza, 187 miles east of the capital, accused King Mohammed VI of oppressing his people and also called the monarch a dog, a dictator and a murder.

Morocco’s king once was constitutionally considered sacred, but under amendments passed in 2011 in response to pro-democracy protests, his person is now described as “inviolable and respect is due him.”

EGYPT

Official: U.S. sought chaos in Egypt

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