Red Cross Negotiating Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Syria
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is trying to broker a humanitarian cease-fire in Syria, as government tanks and troops mass around the opposition stronghold of Homs after bombarding the city for more than two weeks.
ICRC chief spokeswoman Carla Haddad said Monday the Geneva-based agency has been in talks with Syrian authorities and rebels about ways of stopping hostilities to allow the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid to affected areas. The ICRC is the only international agency with aid workers in Syria and has been cooperating with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Syrian rights activists said President Bashar al-Assad’s government deployed tanks and other reinforcements around Homs on Monday ahead of a possible ground assault. They said the latest government shelling killed at least nine people in the central city, a major hub of an 11-month uprising against Mr. Assad’s autocratic rule. Syrian state news agency SANA said 12 security personnel were buried after being killed in fighting with rebels.
None of the casualty figures could be independently verified because Syria restricts the operations of foreign media.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday nations opposed to Assad’s deadly crackdown on the uprising will demonstrate his increasing isolation at a Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia later this week. Speaking on a visit to Mexico, she said the meeting will focus on what she called the “brave” Syrian people’s need for “support and solidarity.”
Assad also received several messages of support on Monday from his allies Iran, Russia and China. Iranian state media said two Iranian warships docked at the Syrian port of Tartous on a mission to train Syrian naval forces.