Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Red Cross' rescues from Homs stymied

Syrian bombardment enters 4th week


A woman leads a group of children along a street in Kafar Taharim, north Syria, where the Free Syrian Army has maintained control, and a normal lifestyle goes on. Government forces have focused their attacks elsewhere.

Associated Press Enlarge

BEIRUT — Red Cross officials said Saturday that they are still unable to evacuate civilians from an embattled neighborhood of Homs as the Syrian bombardment of the rebel-held area enters a fourth week.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said there were "no concrete results" from its negotiations with both Syrian authorities and opposition fighters.

Spokesman Hisham Hassan said the group would continue negotiating with Syrian authorities and activists to get access to Baba Amro and that the Syrian Red Crescent carried out evacuations elsewhere in Syria, including in other neighborhoods of Homs.

Opposition activists in Homs complained that they saw no help coming from an international "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis on Friday and said the world had abandoned them to be killed by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"They [foreign leaders] are still giving opportunities to this man who is killing us and has already killed thousands of people," said Nadir Husseini.

Syria defied international calls to halt attacks on rebel enclaves. At least 89 people were killed nationwide Saturday on the eve of a constitutional referendum that the opposition considers a ploy by the Assad regime.

Mr. Assad presented the revised charter — which allows for at least a theoretical opening of the country's political system — as an effort to placate critics and quell the 11-month uprising against his rule.

The new charter would create a multiparty system in Syria, which has been ruled by the same family dynasty since Mr. Assad's father Hafez seized power in a coup in 1963.

Syrian Interior Minster Lt. Gen. Mohammed al-Shaar said more than 14,000 voting centers have been set up for more than 14 million eligible voters across the country.

But the suggestion of political reform led by Mr. Assad's regime rang hollow in many parts of the country, where government security forces continued their deadly crackdown on rebels seeking to end Mr. Assad's rule.

The violence could also prevent the nationwide vote.

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