Red Cross blocked from entering Baba Amr in Homs for third day: ICRC

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A Red Cross worker helps to carry the coffin of French photographer Remi Ochlik in Damascus on March 3, 2012. Ochlik was killed alongside American journalist Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times during a bombing attack in the Baba Amr neighborhood in the flashpoint city of Homs. (Photo: AFP/Anwar Amro)

Published Sunday, March 4, 2012

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was blocked from entering the Baba Amr district of Homs for a third day on Sunday, despite the Syrian government claiming they had given the medical aid group the green light to enter all parts of the city.

Last Thursday anti-Assad rebel fighters left the Homs neighborhood following a prolonged battle with the Syrian army.

The ICRC, along with their Syrian counterpart the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), had hoped to enter the area on Friday to aid those who had remained.

However, they were prevented from doing so by the Syrian forces, who granted them access to other parts of the city instead.

Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC spokesman in Damascus, confirmed they had been treating civilians nearby but had not been granted access to the beleaguered district.

"The convoy is in Homs and has been delivering aid since Thursday and there are displaced people from Baba Amr in places around Homs, such as the town of Abel, about 3km away," he told Al-Akhbar.

"As for Baba Amr we are still not able to get in. We still have a green light [officially] but we are still unable to continue [on the ground]."

Government forces had said that the risk of mines and booby traps in the area meant it was not safe for the ICRC to enter the area. But earlier footage from Syrian state television showed civilians walking around the Baba Amr area .

Dabbakeh confirmed the ICRC was still hopeful of entering the area in the coming days.

"We were hoping to get in Friday but it didn't happen, Saturday didn't happen and today so far it has not happened but hopefully tomorrow," Dabbakeh said. "We need to have them [the Syrian regime] allow us in, because there are checkpoints and there is the army."

Accounts of what is taking place inside the city are difficult to verify due to the ongoing violence and restrictions on the media.

Elsewhere in Syria 16 army and law-enforcement officers were laid to rest on Sunday, state media reported.

The 16 had been killed by armed groups in Idlib, Homs and Daraa, SANA reported.



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