Russia says it won't offer asylum to Syria's Assad
But that doesn't mean that President-elect Vladimir Putin will soften Russia's opposition to intervention in Syria, as the US had hoped.
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“Unfortunately, they – the position they've taken in the U.N. was to oppose the resolution and that's a shame. But there is no question that they and the Chinese, if they want to advance the cause of the Syrian people, they could bring great pressure on them to do the right thing,” Panetta said.Skip to next paragraph
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On the ground, international aid organizations are struggling to come to the assistance of Syrians in Homs and other areas that have been the target of government attacks. Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief, told reporters today that the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, which was the target of a month-long air assault by government forces, is “completely destroyed” and that most residents have fled. She was the first international observer authorized by the regime to enter the area since troops overran the neighborhood on March 1, the Associated Press reports.
The government kept the neighborhood sealed off from the day they wrested control from the opposition until yesterday, saying it was too dangerous for humanitarian workers to visit. Their restrictions prompted an outcry that they were using the time to hide evidence of their “atrocities,” AP reports.
“The regime’s refusal to allow humanitarian workers to help feed the hungry, tend to the injured, bury the dead, marks a new low,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. “Tons of food and medicine are standing by while more civilians die and the regime launches new assaults.”
Reuters reports that the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent found about 2,700 people in the town of Abel in need of help yesterday, most of them from Baba Amr. They helped more than 2,000 earlier in the week, suggesting an exodus from Baba Amr to Abel.
Separately, at least 2,000 refugees have fled to Lebanon since the weekend, The Christian Science Monitor reports. "People are thinking, if I stay .. I'm going to die, so I have nothing to lose by trying to reach the Lebanese border," says Abu Abbas, who – along with his wife and three small children – dodged Syrian soldiers to escape through an orange grove. "We couldn't live [in the Syrian town of Qusayr] any longer. The shelling was nonstop. They were using everything against us – rockets, mortars, machine guns."
The brutality appears to becoming difficult for some government officials to stay quiet about. Multiple media outlets reported that a man identifying himself as Abdo Hussam el Din, Syria’s deputy oil minister, announced in a video posted on YouTube yesterday that he had defected from the Assad regime.
"I am joining the revolution of this noble people who will not accept injustice," the man said in Arabic, according to CNN. "I've been part of this government for 33 years, and I have acquired many titles, and I do not want to retire serving the crimes of this regime."
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