Syria blocks Red Cross aid to rebel enclave in Homs

The New York Times reports: 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 after 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 official approval 24 hours earlier.

It was unclear why the Syrian military had blocked the convoy. But the convoy organizers said officials had told them that the Baba Amr neighborhood was still not safe. There was possibly a legitimate concern about mines and other booby traps, organizers said, but they were not given a precise reason.

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 uprising in Syria, which 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.”

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