Red Cross in Homs after FSA ‘ambulance blockade’

A Red Cross aid mission has arrived in the Baba Amr area of Homs which has been besieged for almost a month. The mission became possible after Free Syrian Army fighters, who had been disrupting the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, retreated.

­Seven trucks from the International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent have reached Homs bringing food, water and medical supplies to the shuttered area of Baba Amr, which has long been one of the main rebel strongholds.

The district is now under full government control. However, the situation remains chaotic due to badly damaged infrastructure, RT’s Maria Finoshina reports. There is no water, food or electricity; shops and schools remain closed.

Humanitarian aid workers are also expected to evacuate the wounded from the area.

The local media report that in tunnels underneath Homs the army has discovered rebel base packed with electronics, weapons and explosives.

The reports also say that they have found about 100 bodies which show signs of injury and torture.

A Homs eyewitness told RT that while in the town rebels acted barbarously, committing a range of atrocities.

“They kill both young and old. They steal people from their homes and chop them into pieces, put them in plastic bags and throw them out!”

On Thursday the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced it was leaving the district in a “tactical withdrawal.”

Reports say the presence of Free Syrian Army in the area was a major obstacle to entry for humanitarian missions.

Aisling Byrne of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum also says humanitarian missions have been trying to carry out their work in the area for a long time, but the Free Syrian Army has not allowed them to do so.

The humanitarian mission “did get ambulances through to take the injured journalists out of Homs, and it was actually the Free Syrian Army who refused to let the journalists leave,” she said, adding that they also obstructed the evacuation of injured civilians.

Last week, French journalist Edith Bouvier and British Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy appeared on YouTube asking to be evacuated for medical treatment.

The Red Crescent responded by sending ambulances to Baba Amr twice, but both times they were blocked by the Free Syrian Army.

It was reported that the journalists were able to leave Homs only on Thursday – the day the town was abandoned by rebel forces.

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