Humanitarian Aid, Safe Passage for Civilians Essential
Human Rights Watch
February 24, 2012
"(Tunis) – Governments at the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Tunis on February 24, 2012, should enlist the support of Russia and China to push Syria to stop its indiscriminate shelling of residential neighborhoods in the city of Homs, Human Rights Watch said today. They should also press Syria to allow delivery of humanitarian aid and permit safe passage for all civilians who wish to leave.
Since February 3, Syrian army shelling of Homs has killed at least 373 people, according to Syrian monitoring groups, and wounded hundreds of others, including women and children. Local residents who spoke to Human Rights Watch estimate that at least 20,000 residents remain in the Baba Amr neighborhood – the hardest hit area. Video footage from Homs reviewed by Human Rights Watch indicates that the army has used Russian-made 240mm mortar systems against Homs. These systems fire the world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb, designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue.
“The indiscriminate attacks on populated areas with heavy-duty weapons in Homs and other cities demonstrate the price of blocking an international consensus to end the horrific human rights violations in Syria,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Russia and China have a particular responsibility to put pressure on Syria, given that they vetoed Security Council consensus, and Syria has so far shown itself impervious to condemnation by most other states of its actions.”....."