4 Mar 2012

Red Cross hopes for new attempt to enter Baba Amr

9:48 pm on 4 March 2012

The International Committee of the Red Cross is hopeful that its aid convoy can enter the shattered Baba Amr district of Homs overnight after days of talks with Syrian authorities.

The ICRC's Damascus-based spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh says they have the green light, but declined to give further details about what he says were sensitive talks with Syrian officials.

Civilians in the stricken district have struggled through a brutal, month-long siege in freezing conditions with little fuel, food and medical supplies.

An ICRC convoy of seven trucks carrying relief supplies, joined by Red Crescent ambulances to evacuate the sick and wounded, has been stalled in Homs since arriving there two days ago.

At first it got the go ahead to enter the city from Syrian authorities but was then delayed by what Syrian forces on the ground said were security concerns.

Activists say they fear that the ICRC is being kept out of Baba Amr to stop the agency from witnessing massacres.

Unrest spreads

Activists reported renewed shelling in parts of Homs on Saturday.

One report alleged that a lorryload of dead bodies from Baba Amr was seen on a nearby highway. There were also reports of explosions and shootings in other nearby districts to which many families from Baba Amr had fled.

Syria's SANA news agency reported a suicide car bombing in the southern town of Deraa, but activists denied it was a suicide attack.

SANA said the Deraa bomber killed three people and wounded 20 others, while residents said seven people had been killed.

Elsewhere in Syria, anti-Assad activists reported mass arrests and the killing of six soldiers.

Campaigners said seven people had been killed in Syria's north, and three had been shot dead in east Syria's Deir al-Zor when troops opened fire on a funeral for two killed in a crackdown on democracy protests.

Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said anti-Assad fighters had killed six soldiers and wounded nine in the town of al-Herak, south of Deraa.

He also said seven people had been killed in Syria's north in and around Idlib province, three by a roadside bomb and the others by gunfire from Syrian security services.

In the suburbs of Damascus, activists reported hundreds of arrests and said Syrian security forces had killed three people during raids in which they also set alight homes and cars.

Due to media restrictions, the activists' reports could not be independently verified.