Significant devastation in Syria’s Homs: UN official

March 9th, 2012 - 4:43 am ICT by IANS  

Damascus, March 9 (IANS) Visiting UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, has said the devastation in Syria’s Homs city was “significant” and that she was “struck” by what she saw there, Xinhua reported.

Amos went to Homs Wednesday for “an assessment visit” with the Syrian Red Crescent and representatives of the international Red Cross.

“I have been struck by the difference between what I have seen here in Damascus and what I saw yesterday in Baba Amr (an area in Homs),” Amos was quoted as saying Thursday following meetings with Syrian ministers of education and health.

“The devastation there is significant. That part of Homs is completely destroyed and I am concerned to learn what happened to the people in that part of the city,” she said.

Amos has held talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, who reiterated Syria’s commitment to cooperate with Amos’s mission to Syria, “so long as it respects Syria’s sovereignty and independence”.

Amos’s visit to Syria aimed to convince the Syrian authorities to allow unhindered humanitarian access to restive cities, mainly Homs, Xinhua said.

The Baba Amr area has emerged as the epicentre of armed confrontation between troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and armed rebels comprising partly of army defectors.

Activists say Baba Amr has been under army bombardment for nearly a month, and hundreds of people have been killed in the area.

The government says it was fighting armed terrorist groups and Al Qaeda members, who have reportedly infiltrated into Syria to fight alongside the rebels.

The Syrian government has accused some Arab and Western countries of providing weapons and financial support to armed groups in Syria. It said in December 2011 that “armed terrorist groups” had killed more than 2,000 army and security personnel during the unrest.

The UN says over 7,500 people have died in Syria’s violence.

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