Syria, rebels agree truce for Homs evacuation: ICRC

GENEVA Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:05am EDT

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it was preparing to evacuate trapped civilians and the wounded from the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs after both sides agreed to its request for a temporary truce.

The independent aid agency said it had made its request on Tuesday to Syrian authorities and various opposition groups after about 10 days of fighting in several Homs neighborhoods.

"We have teams from the ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent in Homs city. We want to go in as soon as possible. We are finalizing technical issues and contacts on the ground," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.

Homs has been at the center of the 15-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Syria said on Tuesday it was trying to evacuate civilians from Homs and blamed rebel fighters for obstructing efforts to get people out safely.

"Hundreds of civilians are stuck in the old city of Homs, unable to leave and find refuge in safer areas, because of the ongoing armed confrontations," said Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, head of ICRC operations for the Near and Middle East.

"It is critical that the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent be immediately given safe and unhindered access to those in need of life-saving assistance," she said in a statement.

The top priority was to evacuate wounded and sick people to safer areas for medical treatment, in line with international humanitarian law, the ICRC said. The agency was also seeking to bring "much-needed aid" and medical supplies to the local branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Homs.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Comments (2)
Slammy wrote:
Hope they are able to get out without reprisals

Jun 20, 2012 11:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
It is refreshing to see Reuters also acknowledging the SRC sterling efforts in carrying out ongoing humanitarian work in this region.

Jun 20, 2012 6:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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