Syria denies Red Cross access to Homs as violence rages | News | DW | 05.03.2012
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Syria denies Red Cross access to Homs as violence rages

Syrian officials have denied aid groups access to the district of Baba Amr in Homs, citing security concerns. Violence has continued, with heavy fighting reported overnight as rebels attacked regime roadblocks.

Syrian forces continued to bombard the city of Homs and blocked aid groups from reaching residents in the hard-hit Baba Amr district, while rights group Human Rights Watch reported 700 people had been killed during the 27-day siege.

There was heavy fighting overnight into Monday between armored forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who attacked government roadblocks across the southern city of Deraa.

The Syrian government said the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society were prevented from entering Baba Amr for a second day on Saturday due to security concerns, namely the presence of bombs and landmines. However, the ICRC said it had delivered some aid, including food, blankets and medicine, to the nearby town of Abel, where a number of people had taken refuge.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released satellite imagery showing visible damage to 640 buildings in Homs and counted 950 visible craters in open areas. HRW said that the Syrian government was using Russian-made 240 mm mortars against Homs, among other heavy munitions. The Russian mortars are designed to "demolish fortifications and field works," according to an arms catalogue cited by HRW. 

Watch video 01:40

Red Cross Urges Access to Homs District

HRW called on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding to "end indiscriminate shelling of cities and allow the delivery humanitarian aid and the safe passage of civilians and the injured."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 people were killed on Sunday across Syria. Of those, seven were said to have died when a rocket hit house in the town of Rastan, north of Homs. Four of were reported to have been children.

War of words

China, which with Russia twice vetoed UN resolutions condemning Damascus, called Sunday for the violence to come to an end. The state news agency Xinhua cited a foreign ministry statement that urged "the Syrian government and parties concerned to immediately, fully and unconditionally cease all acts of violence, particularly against innocent civilians."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused the Syrian regime of "committing crimes against humanity every day."

"The fact that aid is prevented and access is refused to United Nations officials constitutes another crime," Davutoglu said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that his country would continue to push for the isolation of Syria from the international community.

"We will go on arguing for action at the UN and for the international community to pull together because the denial of humanitarian aid on top of all the murder, torture, and repression in Syria just underlines what a criminal regime this has become," Hague said.

rc /ai (Reuters, AFP)

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