Syrian authorities agreed on Thursday that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could enter the shattered Baba Amro district of Homs on Friday, an ICRC spokesman said as the Syrian opposition urged world powers to intervene to stop a “potential massacre” in the besieged neighborhood.
“The Syrian Red Crescent and ICRC have received a green light from the authorities to go to Baba Amro tomorrow, Friday, in order to bring in much needed assistance including food and medical aid and to carry out evacuation operations,” ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.
“The ICRC and the SARC will go on Friday to Baba Amr to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the wounded,” ICRC spokesman in Damascus spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh told AFP.
Syrian authorities also gave the ICRC “positive indications” on Thursday regarding the agency’s Feb. 21 request for a daily two-hour ceasefire to deliver life-saving relief supplies to civilians, he said.
The green light came hours after Syrian rebels left Baba Amro after a 26-day military siege aimed at crushing a symbol of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition urged world powers on Thursday to intervene to stop a “potential massacre” after forces loyal to Assad seized control of Homs’ rebel Baba Amro district.
“We urge the international community, Muslim and Arab states to intervene immediately to prevent a potential massacre in the coming hours against tens of thousands of children, women and elderly people,” the Syrian National Council (SNC) said, according to Reuters.
The exile alliance of several opposition groups urged the international community “to pressure the criminal regime” to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross “to enter and evacuate casualties and provide immediate humanitarian corridors to bring in medical and food supplies.”
The SNC charged the Fourth Armored Division, led by Assad’s younger brother, Maher, of conducting “barbaric operations against civilians,” after it moved into Baba Amro, forcing rebels to pull out “tactically” on the 27th straight day of bombardment.
The opposition also urged Syrians across the country, “mainly Damascus and Aleppo, to use all civil peaceful resistance means to ease pressure on Baba Amr.”
It paid tribute to the fighters of the Free Syrian Army, which is mostly made up of deserters, “who put up a heroic resistance against the Assad gangs.”
Senior U.S. diplomats told a Senate panel on Thursday that Assad’s regime is under “greater stress” than it was just two months ago and it will eventually fall.
"The Assad regime is under greater stress than it was even two or three months ago,” said Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Damascus who left his post when the United States closed its embassy there for security reasons a month ago.
Ford told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Syrian military which has led an 11-month bloody crackdown against pro-democracy protesters is “more challenged” as they suffer a “steady stream” of defections, according to AFP.
“The military have so far retained their cohesion, the security services have retained their cohesion, but they are under significantly more stress,” Ford said.
The business community is “very unhappy” and the Assad regime has changed its policies to “placate” them, and the leadership is also worried about their eroding support in the street, he added.
Ford said he believes the regime understands “this is the biggest challenge” to it during 40 years of Assad family rule.
Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said the Syrian people have demonstrated “enormous courage” despite the brutality and deprivation they have suffered.
“We don’t know for sure when the tipping point, the breaking point will come... but it will come,” Feltman told the same panel. “The demise of the Assad regime is inevitable.”