Assad reported as saying army operation will end 'very soon'
Katherine Marsh in Damascus
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 May 2011
"....The siege on the city has been the most brutal element of a vicious campaign to crush dissent that has led to widespread international condemnation. The Red Cross on Tuesday called on Syria to allow its health workers safe access to people injured in bloody protests and let it visit those who have been arrested.
"We need to have larger access, especially in the south, and here I talk about Deraa," ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told a news briefing in Geneva.
There is growing evidence of a humanitarian crisis in the city. No one has been allowed in and reports trickling out paint a devastating picture of a population suffering from a lack of medical supplies, food and water. Communications are still cut off. Few agencies are licensed to work in Syria and those who are have specific remits to work with Iraqi refugees, who fled in the wake of the US war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, some activists expressed concerns that protests could fizzle out as Syrians, who have braved security services' gunfire, fear becoming one of thousands being rounded up.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds had been charged with "maligning the prestige of the state", which carries a three-year sentence....."