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Red Cross permitted entry to besieged Homs neighbourhood

The ICRC says Syrian authorities have given it the green light to enter Baba Amr tomorrow.

Free Syrian Army supporters in Idilib, northern Syria yesterday.
Free Syrian Army supporters in Idilib, northern Syria yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd/PA Images

SYRIAN AUTHORITIES have given aid groups permission to enter the besieged Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr, where a government offensive against opposition forces has intensified in recent days, the international Red Cross said today.

A spokesman for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross said the group received no explicit approval from rebels, but noted that they had previously appealed for humanitarian assistance to the district.

“The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent received today from the Syrian authorities the green light to enter Baba Amr tomorrow to bring in much-needed assistance including food and medical aid, and to carry out evacuation operations,” spokesman Hicham Hassan told The Associated Press.

He said, without elaborating, that the Red Cross also received the first “positive indications” from Syrian authorities to its appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire.

Syrian rebels retreated today from Baba Amr, a neighbourhood they had held for months, saying they were running out of weapons and humanitarian conditions were catastrophic after almost four weeks of government bombardment.

A Syrian official said yesterday the government was planning a major offensive to “cleanse” Baba Amr once and for all as activists reported troops massing outside the neighbourhood in western Homs.

Hassan, of the Red Cross, said the humanitarian situation in Homs and elsewhere was growing increasingly dire, partly because of cold weather. Trucks full of aid destined for Homs were unable to reach the city today because of heavy snow, he said.

Read: UN humanitarian envoy refused entry to Syria >

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