Friday, March 02, 2012

Syria Blocks Red Cross Access To Homs

Despite claiming that the Syrian government would allow humanitarian aid to enter the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, which has been the focus of artillery assaults for more than a month, the government suddenly decided to prohibit the Red Cross convoy from entering the area.

I'm shocked... shocked that Syria's regime wont let the Red Cross into Baba Amr.
The Syrian authorities on Friday blocked without explanation an officially sanctioned Red Cross convoy laden with food and medical supplies from entering a devastated neighborhood in the central city of Homs, one day after the army overwhelmed the main rebel stronghold there following a brutal monthlong siege.

There were unconfirmed reports that Syrian security forces were conducting house-to-house searches and summary executions in the neighborhood, Baba Amr, while the convoy of seven Red Cross trucks was parked at the edge of the neighborhood, where military sentries refused to grant it entry despite having received official approval 24 hours earlier. It was unclear why the Syrian military had blocked the convoy.The Red Cross angrily rebuked the Syrian government in a statement that reflected the growing international frustration with delays on funneling help to civilians whose lives have been upended by the antigovernment uprising in Syria that is now nearly a year old.

“It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help,” Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement from its headquarters in Geneva.

He said the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society, which together had sent the convoy to Homs in the morning, waited all day to enter Baba Amr. “We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amr in the very near future,” Mr. Kellenberger said. “In addition, many families have fled Baba Amr, and we will help them as soon as we possibly can.”
I have no doubt Assad doesn't want anyone to see and document what really happened there - at least until after they've had a chance to go and clear(n) things up. Assad's attacks against Baba Amr are consistent with war crimes - including attacking known civilians, summary executions, collective punishment, and depriving civilians access to humanitarian aid. It's the actions of a regime hoping to quell a nascent civil war and preventing the uprising from gaining a propaganda victory should it become as result of the ICRC and Red Crescent observations that Assad was engaging in war crimes.

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