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Humanitarian aid arrives in Homs, Syria, as international pressure builds

Even China and Russia – Syrian allies – have joined the international push for humanitarian relief amid Assad's harsh crackdown.

By Correspondent / March 2, 2012

Damaged buildings covered in snow are seen in Baba Amr district of Homs in this still image taken from video footage broadcast on Syria TV on Friday. Humanitarian aid began arriving in the Syrian city of Homs today, as international pressure on the Syrian government builds.

Syria TV via Reuters TV/Reuters

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Humanitarian aid began arriving in the Syrian city of Homs today, as international pressure on the Syrian government intensified over the violent crackdown on opponents of the Assad regime. Today even Syrian allies Russia and China joined the push for humanitarian relief to the conflict-ravaged country.

A small Red Cross/Red Crescent convoy of trucks reached Homs Friday after a long journey from Damascus through snow, reports BBC News.  The Syrian Red Crescent's Khaled Erksoussi told Agence France-Presse that the convoy was "carrying food, medicines, blankets, milk for babies and other equipment." Red Crescent volunteers and medical personnel plan to distribute the supplies to residents of the besieged neighborhood of Baba Amr, which has been the target of shelling by the Syrian military over the past few weeks. 

But rebels retreated from the neighborhood on Thursday in a "tactical withdrawal," according to the Free Syrian Army. As a result, Red Cross spokesman Sean Maguire told the BBC, "in theory there should be no obstacle to us going in there and staying there on a day-to-day basis. Our colleagues from the Syrian Red Crescent have been distributing food and assistance in other areas of Homs on a daily basis, and we hope to be able to do the same in Baba Amr."

The BBC's Jim Muir writes that the first task for the Red Cross will be to assess the situation, which he expects is grim. "It's freezing cold and snowing; electricity had been cut off and there has been no fuel for heating. Food, water and medical supplies had also run very short.

"Syrian state television carried pictures of Baba Amr and even from afar, it's clear that hardly a building has not been hit during the weeks of bombardment by artillery and tanks," he wrote.

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