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UN humanitarian chief Amos disappointed after Homs attack

The United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has expressed her disappointment after an aid convey waiting to take supplies to civilians trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs came under fire.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Valerie Amos, vowed in a statement released Saturday night in the US to keep pushing to deliver humanitarian assistance to those caught up in Syria’s civil war.

Sunday was scheduled to be the third and final day of a temporary ceasefire in Homs, enabled to allow the evacuation of non-combatants and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Although Saturday's attacks put the deliveries in doubt, Amos said the UN would continue its work.

“I am deeply disappointed that the three-day humanitarian pause agreed between the parties to the conflict was broken [on Saturday] and aid workers deliberately targeted,” Amos said, adding that the events "serve as a stark reminder of the dangers that civilians and aid workers face every day across Syria."

"I continue to call on those engaged in this brutal conflict to respect the humanitarian pause, ensure the protection of civilians and facilitate the safe delivery of aid," Amos appealed.

Truce violation

Following Saturday’s attack, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) said via its Twitter account that mortar fire landed near its convoy, with shots fired at its trucks. The tweets said one truck driver had suffered a minor injury, while two trucks were damaged and abandoned.

Rebels, who hold the historic Old City in central Homs, and Syrian government officials blamed each other for the attack.

"The United Nations and our humanitarian partners will not be deterred from doing the best we can to bring aid to those needing our help," Amos said.

Geneva II peace talks set to resume

The deal struck to provide Homs with humanitarian aid was the first concrete target set at the "Geneva II" peace talks which began two weeks ago. Although an agreement was not reached during the negotiations in Switzerland, a ceasefire deal was brokered in the aftermath.

The "Geneva II" talks will resume on Monday, with the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, again leading the negotiations.

More than 136,000 people are thought to have been killed since fighting began almost three years ago in Syria.

jlw/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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