Syrian activists accused regime forces of carrying out execution-style killings and burning homes Friday as part of a scorched-earth campaign in a restive neighbourhood in the city of Homs, and the Red Cross said the regime blocked
the group’s access to the area following a bloody, month long siege to dislodge rebel forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it received permission from the government Thursday to enter Baba Amr, and a convoy with seven truckloads of aid was poised to do so on Friday. Humanitarian conditions were believed
to be catastrophic, with extended power and water shortages during frigid, snowy winter.
“It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help,” said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger. “We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amr
in the very near future.
The Syrian regime has said it was fighting “armed gangs” in Baba Amr, and vowed to “cleanse” the neighbourhood over the past month. Activists’ videos have shown scenes of devastation, with flattened and burned-out buildings. Residents
also were seen gathering snow to use for drinking water and piles of rubble.
Syria has faced mounting international criticism over its bloody crackdown on the uprising, which started with peaceful protests but has become increasingly militarized. The U.N. has estimated that more than 7,500 people have been
killed since the uprising began nearly a year ago. Activists put the death toll at over 8,000.
France said Friday it is closing its embassy in Syria, a day after two French journalists escaped to Lebanon after being trapped for days in the central city of Homs. The United States and Britain already have closed their embassies