By Dominic Evans | Reuters – 

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. monitors said Syrian helicopters fired on rebel strongholds north of Homs on Monday and called for “immediate and unfettered access” to conflict zones where they had heard many women and children were trapped.

International mediator Kofi Annan also said he was gravely concerned about violence in Homs and in Haffeh, a mainly Sunni Muslim town near the Mediterranean coast, where the U.S. State Department said it feared a “potential massacre”.

The U.N. observers, tasked with monitoring Annan’s April ceasefire deal which failed to stem the violence in Syria, have instead been cataloguing mass killings, bombings and clashes in which many hundreds of Syrians have died.

The outside world, divided in its approach towards President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on a 15-month-old uprising, has been

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