Saturday, March 3, 2012

Homs shelled again as Syrian troops keep Red Cross out

Regime refuses entry for medical convoy, while bodies of journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik have been retrieved

Peter Beaumont, Mona Mahmood
and agencies, Saturday 3 March 2012

"Syrian activists say troops are shelling several districts in the rebellious central city of Homs where the government is stopping a Red Cross convoy from reaching thousands stranded in the area.

Abu Hassan al-Homsi, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Khaldiyeh district of Homs, said he had treated a dozen wounded from the latest onslaught.

The Local Co-ordination Committees activist network said mortars began slaimming into Khaldiyeh, Bab Sbaa and Khader districts of the city early on Saturday.

The shelling comes amid a standoff between the government and the Red Cross, which says authorities have prevented its convoy from delivering badly needed food, medical supplies and blankets to thousands of people still stranded in Baba Amr, the rebel-held district of Homs that was overrun by troops on Thursday.

Despite receiving permission from the government to send a convoy with seven truckloads of aid into Baba Amr, the Red Cross was prevented from entering the neighbourhood, an action it described as "unacceptable".....

Reports from other opposition-held neighbourhoods in the city of one million suggested that fighters may also have pulled back from their positions there.

Anti-Assad activists have accused Syrian troops of burning houses, arresting all males over the age of 12 and of extrajudicial killings, including the alleged beheadings of 17 men captured after the suburb's fall.......

"There's no resistance here," one activist in the northern neighbourhood of Khalidiyeh told the Guardian yesterday. "There is only shelling and bombing."

The situation in Baba Amr itself was described by an onlooker. "Today the Syrian army are in control. There are a lot of wounded who could not flee. The Syrian army is firing against anything they can find in front of them. They are arresting any young men they find."

In other parts of the city, such as Khalidiyeh, residents said the fighters who remained were low on ammunition: "We have members of the FSA here, but they have a small amount of ammunition and they are trying to use every bullet against the right target." He accused the army of murdering a family in Baba Amr, and added: "The Syrian army are arresting any man they find from 14 years upwards."....."

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