3 Mar 2012

Homs shelled as UN still denied entry

Syrian government forces are targeting the neighbourhood where some Baba Amr residents have fled, while the Red Cross is frustrated in its efforts to deliver aid to Baba Amr itself.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is still negotiating with Syrian authorities who have denied its aid convoy access to the Baba Amr district of Homs.

An ICRC convoy of seven trucks with food and relief supplies, joined by Red Crescent ambulances to evacuate the sick and wounded, has been stalled in the city of Homs since arriving there on Friday.

“The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent are not yet in Baba Amr today (Saturday). We are still in negotiations with authorities in order to enter Baba Amr. It is important that we enter today,” an ICRC spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

On Friday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had received “grisly reports” that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in Homs after rebel fighters had fled.

The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent are not yet in Baba Amr… It is important that we enter today. ICRC spokesman

Wounded British photographer Paul Conroy, who escaped Homs earlier this week, said he had witnessed Syrian troops carrying out a massacre in the Baba Amr district.

Elsewhere in Homs, armed forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are reported to have bombarded the Jobar neighbourhood, where thousands of civilians from Baba Amr have taken refuge.

“In an act of pure revenge, Assad’s army has been firing mortar rounds and 500mm machine guns since this morning at Jobar. We have no immediate reports of casualties because of the difficult of communications,” the Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a statement.

Jobar is adjacent to the district of Baba Amr, from where Free Syrian Army rebels pulled out this week after almost a month of army shelling. Activists reports mass executions by loyalist troops who subsequently entered the area.