Syrian officials have claimed that they prevented International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from entering the devastated neighborhood of Baba Amr in the opposition stronghold of Homs because they have to clear out mines and booby-traps in the area.

A seven-truck Red Cross aid convoy that arrived in the region was denied access by Syrian military forces, despite receiving permission from the Damascus government to enter Baba Amr and treat the wounded.

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement: It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help.

He added: We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amr in the very near future. In addition, many families have fled Baba Amr and we will help them as soon as we possibly can.

Meanwhile, according to various media reports, the carnage continues in Homs.

Reportedly, after Syrian opposition forces withdrew from the city, Assad's soldiers are shelling the town and taking revenge by indiscriminately killing both rebel fighters and civilians.

A Syrian activist named Bassel Fouad who escaped to Lebanon told the Associated Press: The [Syrian government forces] begin at the start of a street and enter and search house after house. Then they start with another street.''

Paul Conroy, the British journalist/photographer who recently escaped Homs, told reporters in the UK: We left behind what I fear is going to be the next Rwanda, the next Srebrenica.

He described the saga in Baba Amr to BBC: I've done a fair few wars, I've never seen anything on this level. There are no targets, it's pure systematic slaughter of a civilian population.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of mass arrests of all males aged 11 and above, as well as illegal detentions.

We continue to receive grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture, said Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.

Ban blasted both the Assad regime and the international community's failure to stop the killings in Syria.

Continued division [among foreign nations] emboldens the Syrian authorities in their violent path, he said

The disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities has driven what had been largely peaceful opposition forces to resort to take up arms in some cases.

The Daily Star newspaper of Lebanon reported that humanitarian conditions in Homs are “catastrophic” with power, food and water shortages among bitterly cold weather.