Red Cross to Attempt to Enter Syria’s Rebel Stronghold Sunday

Posted March 3rd, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday appealed to Syrian authorities to allow aid workers to enter the embattled city of Homs and deliver badly needed aid to thousands of people stranded in the besieged district of Baba Amr.

The ICRC said it will work with the Syrian Red Crescent to attempt to deliver the aid Sunday. Activists say the humanitarian situation in the district is dire, with food, water and electricity supplies running low as government forces continue to bombard the city.

ICRC spokesman Sean Maguire told Britain's Sky News Saturday a convoy of seven trucks carrying medical supplies and food entered Homs but was not allowed to enter Baba Amr. Maguire said “We are being told it is not safe to proceed.”

United Nation's Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded unconditional humanitarian access to Syrian cities, saying the were “grisly reports” of summary executions and torture in Homs.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the regime's “savagery must stop.”

Arab satellite channels reported that more 40 Syrian soldiers who tried to defect at an airbase in Idlib province were executed. In the same province, residents said cemetery workers were burying people in parks because the graveyards were targeted by Syrian forces.

China, which along with Russia has twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions against Syria's deadly crackdown on dissent, urged all parties in the conflict to end the violence immediately and to take part in an “inclusive political dialogue” that would be mediated by the newly appointed U.N.-Arab League envoy, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In Damascus Saturday, the bodies of two Western journalists killed in a shelling attack on Baba Amr last week were handed over to diplomats. A Polish diplomat, representing U.S. interests in Syria, received the body of American-born journalist Marie Colvin, and the French ambassador to Syria received the remains of French photographer Remi Ochlik.

In other violence, activists and the state-run SANA news agency say an explosion killed at least three people and wounded several others in the southern city of Daraa Saturday. SANA blamed a suicide car bomber for the attack.

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.

“As requested by the French ambassador, the body of the French photographer will be transported to the French hospital in Damascus before being transported abroad. The process of delivering the body of the French photographer took place in the presence of representatives of the ICRC and the Arab Syrian Red Crescent with representatives of the French hospital. The body of the American journalist was also transported to the French hospital after being identified by specialists in the presence of the representatives of the Polish embassy. The two bodies have left Al-Assad University Hospital and gone to the French hospital, and we are ready to offer any type of help and co-operation in the process of transporting them outside the country and we are in waiting to do whatever it takes to get them abroad.”

AP feed: (Arabic) Issam Abbas, Idlib Cemetery worker:

“They (the Syrian army) don't let us pass the check point to get to the cemetery over there, they don't let us dig graves over there. So we have to dig graves in the park.”

(Arabic) Abdel Mohcen, Idlib Cemetery worker:

“They fired at us all the time, and they don't let me go there and work. Last time I was there I had four bullets fired at me when I was in the cemetery.”

(Arabic) No names given, sister and brother of Wahel Nahes:

“He left the house and he never came back, and I think that a mine blew him up.”