DAMASCUS - Syrian forces on Monday bombarded the city of Rastan for a second straight day, monitors said, as former UN chief Kofi Annan and other world envoys prepared a diplomatic drive to end the bloodshed.
It said seven civilians, including four children, were killed on Sunday in shelling of the city, which like Homs straddles the main highway linking Damascus to the north. On Monday, security forces killed at least six people across the country, including two teenagers, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory. In Cairo, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi told reporters that Annan, who has been named special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and League, will travel to Damascus on Saturday.
He will be accompanied by his deputy, former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Qudwa, a nephew of Yasser Arafat, on their first trip to Syria, where state media welcomed the mission.
Washington, meanwhile, slapped economic sanctions on Syrian state broadcasters, saying they were aiding the regime in its campaign to put down a popular uprising. The US has already imposed general sanctions on the entire Syrian government and its agencies, freezing any US assets they might have and forbidding US entities and citizens from any transactions with them.