Syria announced that a total of 600 people have been evacuated from the devastated city of Homs on Sunday. The evacuees are mainly women, children and senior citizen who have survived more than a year of hunger due to the Assad Regime’s blockade on the city. Aid workers had their vehicles shot at and even received mortar fire despite the three-day truce between Syria and the rebels.
The convoy was bringing food and medicine to the 2500 citizens of Homs that are choosing to stay and to help with the evacuation. This latest act of violence threatens to disentangle the deal struck between the governor of Homs and the UN to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.
Nine Red Crescent and UN vehicles were trapped in the streets of Homs for hours after sundown when the first mortar hit. The team managed to escape just after 10pm local time, having to leave two damaged trucks behind. Even though the team was fired upon they managed to deliver 250 boxes of food, 190 hygiene kits and medicine needs for chronic conditions.
The attack did wound one aid worker, however, despite the attack all the workers involved to plan to return to Homs to continue to deliver aid. Khaled Erksoussi, head of operations for the Syrian Red Crescent to the Associated Press that the agency will continue to evacuate citizens and continue to deliver aid in line with the agreed three-truce as brokered with the UN.
Those loyal to Syrian’s Assad Regime have done all they can to prevent the deliveries into the rebel occupied parts of Homs. However even the threat of violence has not stopped 600 evacuations from occurring. The same aid workers that were attacked on Sunday will also be returning to Homs to deliver more aid.
It is still not clear who exactly fired on the aid workers. Syrian state television reported the members of the Red Crescent were wounded by rebel fire, but did not go into further detail. The rebels are blaming Assad Regime militia for the attacks.
Elsewhere in the region, Syrian activist groups are saying that the Assad Regime is continuing to drop ba bombs on the city of Aleppo, at least 11 people have been killed. A British activist group, Syrian Observation for Human Rights, says the bombs were dropped in two different areas of Aleppo on Sunday, killing 11 two of them a woman and a child.
These recent bomb droppings are part of a week-long strike by the Assad regime in an attempt to drive the rebels out of their strongest held positions. The rebels gained control of the area in 2012 and the barrel bombs have been dropping for over a week in this most recent campaign. Barrel bombs are loaded on a helicopter and tossed out the door, making the accuracy anyone’s guess and the danger for innocent civilians all the greater.
The uprising in Syria had started has peaceful protests in the streets but slowly evolved into civil war that has cost 130,000 Syrians their lives. There have been very few cease fires since the conflict began, however, just over the past year several temporary cease fires for the purposes of evacuation and delivery of aid in and around Damascus have been put in place.
Has Syria continues the evacuation of Homs, 600 people are finally tasting freedom from the besieged city. Also, Brave aid workers will continue to deliver much-needed supplies to those who stay despite being fired upon on Sunday. Syria is also scheduled to begin the second round of peace talks on Monday.
By Adam Stier