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Assad forces renew assault on Homs, stall aid

Sunday March 04, 2012 05:23:55 PM, Agencies

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Amman/ Beirut: Syrian forces have renewed their assault on Homs, bombarding more areas of the central city, activists say, with aid agencies still unable to gain access to neighbourhoods in desperate need of relief.

Sunday's bombardment of Syria's third-largest city with about one million people came as China offered a proposal to end the violence in the country, calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks by all parties but standing firm against any intervention by outside forces.

Conditions in the western Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr have been described as catastrophic, with reports on Saturday describing extended power outages, shortages of food and water, and no medical care for the sick and wounded.

Government forces took control of the opposition stronghold on Thursday after opposition fighters fled under the same constant bombardment that activists said killed hundreds of people since early February.

The Syrian government has said it is fighting "armed gangs" in Baba Amr and has pledged to "cleanse" the neighbourhood.

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said the UN and international rights groups were investigating the government's crackdown in the area, adding that many locals were wondering where the next government offensive will take place.

"Shelling is now going on in a different neighbourhood of Homs," she said.

"Many many believe the same 'cleansing' of Baba Amr, as the army is calling it, is going to be carried out in areas in the south [of the city], where it is believed many of the Free Syrian Army has gone."


Meanwhile, in Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Saturday it was still negotiating with Syrian authorities who have denied its aid convoy access to the shattered Baba Amro district of Homs.

An ICRC convoy of seven trucks carrying food and other life-saving relief supplies, joined by Red Crescent ambulances to evacuate the sick and wounded, has been stalled in the city of Homs since arriving there on Friday.

“The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent are not yet in Baba Amro today (Saturday). We are still in negotiations with authorities in order to enter Baba Amro. It is important that we enter today,” ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.








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Picture of the Day

Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal inspecting the damaged gate number 16 at the Farakka Barrage, Murshidabad district, West Bengal on March 03, 2012. State Minister of Irrigation & Waterways, Micro & Small Scale Enterprises & Textiles, Government of West Bengal Dr. Manas Ranjan Bhunia and State Minister of Development & Planning and Power, Government of West Bengal Manish Gupta are also seen.



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