Mar
05

Syria: Baba Amr cleared but uprising continues – live updates

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• Shelling kills children in Rastan
• Red Cross plans to deliver more aid to Homs
• Lebanon bracing itself for an influx of Syrian refugees

8.37am: (all times GMT) Welcome to Middle East Live. What next in Syria after the fall of Baba Amr?

The Syrian regime has won one battle in a war it is not guaranteed to win,” Nabil Boumonsef, a columnist at Beirut’s an-Nahar newspaper, told Reuters. Like other analyst says events in Homs will radicalise the Syrian opposition and prolong the conflict.

Here’s a roundup of the latest developments:

Syria

The Syrian authorities have begun “removing debris” from the devastated Baba Amr area of Homs. Before it fell to the Syrian army last Thursday, an official ominously said that the area would be “cleaned”. There is little information about the fate of up to 20,000 residents thought to be there when the siege began four weeks ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross plans to try to deliver aid again to Homs today despite being repeatedly denied access to the worst hit areas. On Sunday the ICRC delivered aid to the nearby village of Abel, where if found a “considerable” number of families who had fled from Baba Amr. A seven-truck ICRC convoy has been waiting since Friday to enter Baba Amr.

Lebanon is bracing itself for a new influx of Syrian refugees after up to 2,000 people fleeing the military onslaught in Homs were reported to be trying to reach the border. “Between one and two thousand [Syrians] are in the process of coming from Syria to Lebanon,” the UNHCR’s deputy representative in Lebanon, Jean Paul Cavalieri, told Reuters. Save the Children said some of children fleeing the violence in Syria are showing signs of post-traumatic stress.

The Syrian army shelled other parts of Homs and nearby areas in an effort to regain control of the area, anti-government activists told the LA Times. Rastan, Tall Kalakh and Qusair, to which Free Syrian Army rebels were said to have fled, were all shelled they said. A rebel officer said:

They finished with Baba Amr, and now they have turned their attention to [another Homs neighbourhood] Khaldiyeh and the surrounding villages. They want to finish all of the Free Syrian Army, from Homs to its entirety. They will destroy the whole village just so they can get inside.

The activist group, the Local Co-ordination Committee in Syria, claimed 62 people were killed on Sunday. They included seven children.

Scores of rebel fighters have vowed to fight to defend the town of Rastan, north of Homs.

The video was uploaded on Sunday.

Around 13 French officers are being held by Syrian authorities in Homs, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star. The group is in a field hospital in central city of Homs, it claimed citing a Damascus-based pro-Syrian Palestinian source.

It was not clear why the officers were in Syria, when they had arrived or whether they were part of a larger contingent in the city.

Heavy fighting broke out overnight between armoured forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad and rebels who launched coordinated attacks on army roadblocks across the southern city of Deraa on the border with Jordan, according to activists. But opposition sources say rebels loosely organised under the Free Syrian Army banner have intensified assaults on loyalist targets in southern, north and eastern Syria in the last few days to relieve pressure in the city of Homs, where troops overran the rebel district of Baba Amr last week.

Iran

Barack Obama has admonished Israel for “too much loose talk of war” with Iran and said the world has a responsibility to give sanctions an opportunity to discourage Tehran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. Speaking before a meeting on Monday with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama sought to head off pressure for him to commit to military action against Tehran if it crosses specified “red lines” in its nuclear programme.

Libya

• Two British journalists arrested last month by a Libyan militia group in a direct challenge to the authority of the country’s new government have been accused of spying. The militia staged a late-night press conference in a Tripoli hotel to unveil what they said was evidence of improper activities. Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, 36, and reporter Nicholas Davies, 37, who work for Iran’s state-owned Press TV, were arrested 23 February by a Misrata militia based in Tripoli.

Matthew Weaver

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from Matthew Weaver

via http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/mar/05/syria-uprising-baba-amr-cleared-live-updates

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