Homs in ruins
A man walks past a burnt car and damaged buildings along a street at the al-Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs on November 19, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Syrian rebels said on Tuesday that they had set up their own security service to "defend the Syrian revolution," as two mortar shells hit the Ministry of Information building in Damascus.

In a video statement, the rebels said the objective of the intelligence network is "to perform as a strong shield to protect the sons of the revolution from attacks, arrests, abuses and killings."

The video, posted by the Free Syrian Army, showed eight armed men wearing black masks over their faces. One of them was identified as Colonel Osama, agent 102, as he announced the "formation of the Intelligence Services Administration of the Syrian Revolution-National Security Bureau."

He added that intelligence offices will be established across the country's major regions, and a brigade for special missions will be formed.

Intelligence services have been powerful in Syria since the 1970s. Late president Hafez al-Assad used them to maintain control of the country, as well as his son Bashar since he assumed power in 2000.

Also Tuesday, the state news agency SANA reported that two mortars shells hit the Ministry of Information building in Damascus during the early hours of the day.

No casualties were reported and there was only minor damage to the building, which is located in the capital's Mezze district.

Government forces blocked all routes out of the capital following the attack and positioned snipers on buildings overlooking some main highways, activists reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll across Syria for Tuesday had reached 100. It includes 29 pro-government forces.

Also in Damascus, a hardline Islamist rebel group called Jund al-Islam (Warriors of Islam) said they had captured the Air Defence Battalion base near al-Hajar al-Aswad, on the southern outskirts of the city, after four days of fighting.

In London, Britain said it was recognizing the newly-formed National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Syrian people.

The statement to parliament by Foreign Secretary William Hague followed Monday's decision by European Union foreign ministers to lend their support to the grouping.

Hague said he would ask the grouping to appoint a representative to Britain and that his country would supply further technological and humanitarian assistance.

In Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi condemned on Twitter a rocket attack that destroyed the home of journalist Bassel al-Oudat.

Terzi said the journalist, who works in Damascus for the Italian news agency Adnkronos, had been the victim of a "vile attack."

Al-Oudat was not harmed in the blast.

According to a report last month by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at least 32 journalists, five of them foreign, have been killed in Syria.