Daily Israel Report

Red Cross Fails to Rescue Syria Wounded

Negotiations to have Red Cross rescue wounded Syrians, journalists from besieged Homs neighborhood fail.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/26/2012, 5:34 AM

Aftermath of Syria shelling in Homs
Aftermath of Syria shelling in Homs
Reuters

The Red Cross failed on Saturday to agree a deal to evacuate wounded Syrians and Western journalists from the battered city of Homs, AFP reported.

According to the report, the killing in Syria continued as President Bashar al-Assad's forces resumed shelling the Baba Amr district of Homs, after an apparent pause to allow in relief teams. 24 people were killed in Homs and at least 68 civilians were killed nationwide, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

Meanwhile in Homs, the International Committee of the Red Cross said negotiations with the authorities and opposition groups to resume evacuations from Baba Amr, where two wounded Western journalists are trapped along with the bodies of two killed colleagues, failed.

On Friday it was reported that Red Cross aid workers entered the besieged neighborhood and were negotiating with authorities and rebels to evacuate the wounded.

The wounded include two Western journalists who were injured in the same government attack that killed American war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik earlier this week.

The two, French journalists Edith Bouvier and William Daniels have asked for help leaving the embattled city after Bouvier was wounded in the shelling that killed Colvin and Ochlik.

YouTube video posted Thursday showed Bouvier pleading to be allowed to leave the city in order to receive the proper medical treatment.

ICRC spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh told AFP on Saturday the Red Cross would pursue its efforts to rescue the wounded.

According to Dabbakeh, the “ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been negotiating since this morning with both the Syrian authorities and opposition groups in Homs. The discussion has yielded no concrete result today. Unfortunately, therefore, no emergency evacuation will take place today.”

He added, “The ICRC and the SARC will continue to negotiate with the authorities and opposition in an attempt to enter Baba Amr and carry out life-saving evacuations.”

A female Western journalist involved in Saturday's negotiations told AFP on condition of anonymity that ambulances entered Baba Amr twice on Saturday, but were blocked by the opposition’s Free Syrian Army.

“At one point they said they could not allow more evacuations, including those of foreign journalists, because nine people evacuated on Friday had been arrested,” the journalist was quoted as having said.

She said the ICRC investigated the rebel claim and reported that the charge that evacuees had been arrested “were totally false.”

Meanwhile, a Syrian official accused Baba Amr rebels of refusing to hand over Bouvier and the bodies of the journalists to rescuers.

"The concerned authorities in Homs, moved by humanitarian considerations, sent several local officials and Red Crescent ambulances to evacuate the Western journalists who entered Syria illegally," the official was quoted by the state-run SANA state news agency as having said.

“Despite efforts that lasted several hours, armed groups in Baba Amr refused to hand over the wounded woman (Bouvier) and the two bodies, thus endangering the life of the wounded French journalist,” he added.

Meanwhile on Saturday, a report said that the United States was planning to intervene militarily in Syria, with or without United Nations authorization, if the killing in the country continued.

A senior American official quoted in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper said that the action would be based on the UN intervention in Kosovo several years ago: Establishment of a beachhead and carving out an area that was off-limits to forces controlled by Assad, where refugees could come to flee Assad's troops, and which could be used as a forward base to reduce Assad's hold on the country, and eventually remove him.