Humaniatarian Aid Reaches Battered Homs

Posted March 2nd, 2012 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross says medical supplies and humanitarian aid have reached the battered city of Homs and will soon be taken to the Baba Amr neighborhood.

An ICRC spokesperson said Friday that a convoy of seven trucks carrying aid would enter Baba Amr, a district of Homs where rebels and citizens have been under siege by government forces for nearly a month.

The delivery comes as activists say the increasingly dire humanitarian situation led to the “tactical retreat” of opposition forces on Thursday. Activists say the city's water supply has been cut off and that food, medicine and electricity are scarce.

The United Nations' human rights office announced Friday it has received unconfirmed reports that 17 executions took place in Baba Amr on Thursday.

A spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the global body is appealing to Syrian authorities and the opposition to prevent unlawful reprisals, torture and arbitrary detentions following this “particularly grizzly set of summary executions.”

Two French journalists who were injured and trapped in Baba Amr for days were evacuated from the city and are en route back to France.

Freelance reporter Edith Bouvier and her photographer William Daniels suffered injuries when government shelling struck a makeshift media center where Western journalists were sheltering in Baba Amr last week. The attack killed another French journalist and an American journalist working for a British newspaper.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday that France will close its embassy in Syria following the lead of the United States and Britain who have already shut down their diplomatic operations in Damascus.

During a summit of European leaders in Brussels, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron called for the Syrian government to be held accountable for crimes committed during its assault. He said no matter how long it takes, there will be a “day of reckoning” for what he called a “dreadful regime.”

In comments Friday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin refused to speculate on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's leadership, but said reforms in Syria were long overdue.

Europeans leaders are speaking out a day after the U.N. Security Council took its first action on the Syrian crisis.

After several failed attempts to unite behind a resolution on Syria, the Council unanimously approved a statement “deploring” what it called the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in areas affected by violence.

Council members Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions that would have condemned the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on the revolt.

The U.N. says more than 7,500 people have been killed since the revolt began last March. Syrian officials blame the uprising on foreign-backed armed “terrorists” who, the government says, have killed more than 2,000 security personnel.