In Syria, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos tours Baba Amr

CAIRO, Egypt — Valerie Amos, the top United Nations humanitarian chief, arrived in Syria Wednesday and traveled to the embattled Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, The New York Times said. She is the first "independent outside observer" to visit Baba Amr since the Syrian army began a campaign of shelling there last month.

The Times reported that Amos' aides "said she would make no statement while in Syria," though the BBC quoted her spokeswoman as saying, "[Amos] says that the parts they saw were completely devastated."

"She said Homs feels like a city that has been completely closed down."

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Amos is in Syria to inspect the situation and also to urge the country to permit more aid to enter. "Ms. Amos has said that her aim is to 'urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies,' " wrote the BBC.

The ICRC tweeted: 

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Meanwhile, regime forces continued to bombard Homs, Reuters reported. BBC said that Syrian television has been broadcasting images of bulldozers and soldiers cleaning up Baba Amr with "guns and grenades laid out on the road."

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In Cairo, Egypt's foreign minister denounced arming of Syria's rebels, saying it would "lead to civil war," Agence France Presse reported. White House spokesman Jay Carney agreed, saying, "Now is not the time to further militarize the situation in Syria." 

President Barack Obama too urged caution in his first press conference of 2012. He said the humanitarian situation in Syria is "heartbreaking," according to the BBC, but denounced calls for US military strikes on Syria.

The president also predicted the fall of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. 

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