Huffpost UK uk

Syria: Atrocities Reported In Ruins Of Baba Amr As Red Cross Wait For Access

Posted: Updated:

Aid agencies are still unable to distribute vital medical supplies in the Baba Amr area of Homs, Syria, amid accusations of executions and torture taking place in the ruins of the city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the Syrian army was blocking access to the neighbourhood where hundreds died in four weeks of shelling by government troops.

Instead the ICRC gave out aid in neighbouring districts, where many Baba Amr residents have fled.

A spokesperson said in an emailed statement: "Teams started distributing food, blankets, hygiene kits in two districts of Al-Tawzii and Al-Insha'at in Homs city.

"These are areas close to Baba Amr which received a lot of displaced residents during the fighting. This is following our trip to the Abel village yesterday, where we distributed assistance to residents and population displaced from Baba Amr."

Yves Daccord, ICRC director-general, told Swiss Radio and Television: "at the moment we are blocked by the Syrian army and government … We hope to get in to Baba Amr today, we have to be firm and not give up."

Daccord said that freezing temperatures in the city were hampering efforts to get food and medical supplies into the area. He also described a lack of clean water, and said that fighting continued in the region.

The ICRC has pushed for a two-hour daily ceasefire in which to distribute aid, but said a plan agreed with the government had not been honoured.

Some of those fleeing from Homs have spoken of atrocities being committed in the Baba Amr neighbourhood after government soldiers forced the rebels to withdraw.

The BBC's Paul Wood was told by one woman that soldiers had cut her 12-year-old son's throat.

The woman told the BBC that 35 other men and boys had been detained and killed.

Above: Syrian state media published this photograph of the "cleaning" of Baba Amr

Syrian state media reported it had been removing debris from Baba Amr, saying it had been "left by the armed terrorist groups".

It claimed it had uncovered an "explosive manufacturing facility" and that the Syrian Petroleum Company was repairing an oil line damaged in the shelling.

However elsewhere in the country protests continued, including in the city of Idlib where video uploaded to YouTube appeared to show a large gathering of demonstrators calling on Assad to step down:

Protests were also seen in Damascus, where activists said a funeral procession was held for Intisar al-Mosaher, a mother of 4 who activists said was killed as a result of random gunfire from government troops.

Supporters of Assad held a rally near to the Russian embassy to show their support for re-elected Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose government has refused calls to condemn the Syrian leader and vetoed UN resolutions calling for him to quit.

More recently, however, Putin indicated a shift in his position, saying that it was down to the Syrian people to choose their leader and calling on both sides to end the violence.

China, the other permanent UN security council member who also vetoed resolutions decrying the violence, has outlined its own six-point plan to defuse the situation.

They include calls to "immediately, fully and unconditionally cease all acts of violence" and "respect the independence" of the country's people in choosing their leader.

Meanwhile the Syrian government said it would now allow the UN Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to travel to Damascus for talks with President Assad.

Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby reportedly told Reuters: "Kofi Annan told me that Syria will receive him on 10 March and that he would arrive in Cairo on 7 March."

Also on Monday the body of a Sunday Times journalist killed in Syria arrived in Paris after being flown from Damascus on board a French plane.

The French Foreign Ministry said the body of Marie Colvin, along with that of French photographer Remi Ochlik, had arrived in the country.

Some reports have suggested Colvin's body will be repatriated to the US as early as tomorrow or Tuesday. Ochlik's body will remain in France.

Colvin and Ochlik died on 22 February after being trapped inside the besieged Baba Amr district of Homs, which has been a target of heavy military shelling.

Their deaths fuelled renewed calls for urgent international action to avert a humanitarian disaster in Syria where more than 7,500 civilians have died at the hands of brutal leader president Bashar Assad.

Photographer Paul Conroy, who was injured alongside Colvin, told reporters that working with her had been an "absolute privilege".

Speaking from his hospital bed in London, Conroy said: "Marie was a unique person. To work with her was just an absolute privilege.

"She was tenacious - one of the bravest people I know and to be quite honest, we never get the choice of how we die, but Marie died doing something she was completely passionate about."

Conroy said he feared for what would happen in Syria with no cameras or journalists there to report.

He said: "It's an attempt to massacre. It's horrifying to think that this is the part we're seeing.

"Once the cameras are gone, as they are now, God knows what's happening. Any talking now is too late."

Around the Web

Syria crisis: Red Cross still seeking to enter Baba Amr

Rebels go on the 'offensive' as attacks by Syrian regime spread

Syrian rebels retreat from Baba Amr district of Homs

Red Cross delivers aid to Baba Amr refugees

Baba Amr falls and Iranians go to the polls