Rescuers find ravaged Homs neighborhood deserted | News | DW | 07.03.2012
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Rescuers find ravaged Homs neighborhood deserted

Most inhabitants of the devastated Syrian district of Babr Amr in Homs have fled, a Red Cross spokesman said. Aid workers entered the area as UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos pressed for more access to the needy.

A convoy sent by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent into the shattered Homs district of Baba Amr found that most residents had fled the neighborhood on Wednesday.

The team of aid workers that entered the area - under siege for almost a month - found it was almost deserted.

"The Syrian Arab Red Crescent stayed inside Baba Amr for about 45 minutes. They found that most inhabitants had left Baba Amr," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.

The ICRC distributed aid on Wednesday to many of the areas in and around Homs where refugees from Baba Amr are believed to have fled.

The visit comes after a ground attack on the area, which was regained from rebels by government troops last Thursday. Earlier in the week, there were reports that atrocities had been committed by regime forces in the reclaimed neighborhood, including the killing of boys as young as 12.

A Syrian child is seen with her family who fled from the Syrian town of Qusair near Homs

Refugees have abandoned their homes across Syria, many heading for Lebanon

Red Crescent teams evacuated 30 people in need of medical attention from Baba Amr on their past two visits - the last being 10 days ago.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Damascus on Wednesday for talks with officials from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

During the discussions, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was reported to have told Amos that his government was ready to cooperate in giving her team access to Homs and other cities ravaged by recent fighting.

Regime 'committed to cooperation'

State news agency SANA reported that Muallem "underlined Syria's commitment to cooperate with the delegation within the framework of the respect, sovereignty and independence of Syria and in coordination with the foreign ministry."

SANA said the minister had stressed that the regime was doing its best to meet civilian needs in the face of "unfair sanctions" imposed by Arab neighbors and the West.

Amos left Damascus for Homs following the talks and was expected to make an assessment of conditions there.

Countries seeking a resolution against the Assad regime are believed to be awaiting the results of Amos' trip, as well as a visit by the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.

'No question of asylum'

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin rejected the idea of Russia offering Assad asylum. "We are not even discussing this question," Putin told Kremlin reporters.

Several countries have recently aired the possibility of offering the Syrian leader asylum in an effort to end 12 months of violence that the UN says has claimed more than 7,500 lives.

Last month, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said he was ready to accept Assad and his family and offer them immunity from prosecution. Turkish President Abdullah Gul has also indicated he may consider such a request from the regime.

rc/ncy (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)