Teams of international aid workers from the Red Cross and the Red Crescent entered into parts of the besieged city of Homs, Syria for the first time on Monday.
After trying to get permission to enter the city for four consecutive days, President Bashar al-Assad's government allowed the Red Cross into two neighborhoods, where it began distributing food and blankets to civilians.
However, the Red Cross has still been barred from the Baba Amr district (or Baba Amro) of Homs, where residents have been surrounded by the Syrian army.
We are in the neighborhoods of al-Inshaat and al-Tawzii. Al-Inshaat is the closest neighborhood to Baba Amro. Obviously there is the resident population in need of help, as that neighborhood was also affected by the violence, but it also hosts many families who have fled Baba Amro, Hicham Hassan, spokesman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told Reuters.
Rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army were forced to abandon Baba Amr late last week as a result of the bombardment. Syrian forces have taken control of the area, and have blocked Red Cross trucks from entering, reportedly with land mines and booby traps.
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“The Syrian army controls all of Baba Amr. The last pockets of resistance have fallen, a security official in Damascus told AFP.
There are still some 4,000 people living in the battered neighborhood, most in the ruins of destroyed homes and buildings, where they're suffering from cold, hunger and lack of medical supplies, according to The Associated Press.
Pro-Assad forces are also allegedly hunting down, torturing and killing remaining rebels in the district, and there are reports that Syrian soldiers are targeting unarmed civilians who go out in public.
“We warn the regime against any retaliation against civilians and we hold it fully responsible for their safety,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.
Homs, which has been continually shelled by the Syrian government for four weeks, has been the focal point for the unrest in Syria, but fighting and protests are taking place across the country. At least 60 people were killed in total on Sunday, activists said, including 17 in Homs and six who were executed outside of Baba Amr.
Another 18 were killed in the city of Hama, 12 in the capital city of Damascus and five in the Idlib province. More than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began a year ago, according to activists.
Additionally, tens of thousands of people have fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.