Red Cross makes new rescue attempt in Syria's Homs

An image grab taken off the official Syrian TV yesterday shows Red Crescent ambulances in Homs last Friday as they attempt to evacuate Syrians wounded in shelling by regime forces as well as some women and children.Picture: AFP

Sunday, February 26, 2012

THE Red Cross made a new attempt yesterday to bring out people trapped in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, two of them wounded Western journalists, after a first successful rescue of civilians.

The humanitarian effort came after Arab and Western states urged Damascus to "immediately cease all violence" to allow access, more than three weeks into a deadly assault on rebels in Syria's third largest city.

But forces of embattled President Bashar al-Assad resumed their shelling of Homs' Baba Amr district, and attacked elsewhere, killing at least 16 civilians across the country, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Six of them, including a woman and a girl, were gunned down when security forces clashed with army defectors at Ezaz, in northern Aleppo province, the Observatory said.

Police also opened fire to disperse a demonstration of some 4,000 people who took to the street in the neighbourhood of Sayef al-Dawla, in the city of Aleppo, for the funeral of a civilian killed on Friday.

In Homs, the International Committee of the Red Cross was negotiating on Saturday to resume evacuations from Baba Amr, it said.

"Discussions continue in Homs Saturday in order to pursue the evacuation of those in need of urgent medical care," the ICRC's Saleh Dabbakeh told AFP.

The spokesman confirmed the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Friday evacuated seven Syrians wounded in shelling by regime forces as well as 20 sick women and children. They were taken to Homs' Al-Amine hospital.

But they did not evacuate two wounded Western journalists and the bodies of two others, said the ICRC.

A Western diplomat confirmed the ICRC and SARC were still negotiating for the evacuation of the wounded Western journalists and the bodies of two others.

France said Friday it was intensifying its diplomatic efforts to rescue the wounded journalists.

"We are pursuing our efforts more than ever to obtain a secure medical evacuation of the foreign journalists," said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.


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