Syrian rebels withdraw from Baba Amr; Syrian Army bars Red Cross from entering

The Takeaway

Syria’s rebels forces have withdrawn from the city of Homs after more than three weeks of deadly shelling by Syrian army forces.

The “tactical withdrawal” was followed by Syrian soldiers moving into the contested, damaged Baba Amr neighborhood, where several foreign journalists had been holed up after being injured. Syrian officials had said the International Committee of the Red Cross could enter the area to provide relief aid to the civilians in the area, but a convoy from the ICRC was held up and prevented from entering, the BBC reported.

Opposition officials worry that the delay, after permission was previously granted, is because Syrian officials are trying to clean up evidence of mass killings.

“On Friday the UN human rights office said it had received reports of a ‘particularly grisly set of summary executions’ of 17 people in Homs,” the BBC wrote.

The ICRC aid convoy planned to stay in Homs and try again to enter Baba Amr.

Some 7,500 people are estimated by the United Nations to have died in the current crisis, though there are much higher estimates as well.

According to The New York Times, the Syrian Army’s success in Homs will allow them to shift their sights to other cities that have been rebelling, specifically Hama in northern Syria.

But pressure is increasing on Syria to grant a cease-fire. The United Nations passed a resolution, endorsed by Russia and China even, demanding immediate humanitarian access, but so far even that has gone ignored.

“The fighting in Syria has spurred deep international division, with China and Russia vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution, promoted by Arab and Western nations, calling on (President Bashar) Assad to step aside,” the Times wrote.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is in line to be re-elected Russia’s president this weekend, defended Russia position, according to the Times, but came up far short of lending his support to Assad.

“The first thing that we should do now is to end the armed conflict and bloodletting,” he said to the Times.

What remains to be seen, though, is whether the Syrian Army can crush the various pockets of opposition before international pressure or an invigorated, resupplied Syrian rebel force force it to change tactics.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.