The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it was preparing to evacuate wounded and trapped civilians from the city of Homs after both sides agreed to its request for a temporary pause in fighting.
ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said Red Cross and Syrian Red Crescent teams were ready to go into Homs, where hundreds of people have been killed since February, as soon as possible.
The head of the UN observer mission in Syria said on Tuesday
that UN forces have come under fire multiple times recently but are committed
to staying in the strife-torn country.
Major General Robert Mood said after a private briefing of
the Security Council that questions about cancelling the mission were
"We are not going anywhere," he said.
The UN said on Saturday its 300 observers based in Syria
were suspending all missions because of concerns for their safety after
fighting intensified over the previous 10 days.
"Shelling, small arms fire and other incidents are
coming much closer, and we have been targets several times over the last few
weeks," Mood said.
Mood spoke after briefing the UN Security Council during a
closed meeting on the situation in Syria, where shelling and clashes between
rebel fighters and government troops in Homs have continued.
"The suffering of the Syrian people, the suffering of
men, women and children, some of them trapped by fighting, is getting
worse," Mood told reporters.
Reviving the mission would require a reduction in violence
and a commitment from both the Syrian government and the opposition to
"freedom of movement" for the UN observers, Mood said.
Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, said that Mood's
briefing was "well-balanced," and called on all interested parties to
push for the resumption of Mood's mission.
Speaking at the news conference on Tuesday, Ja'afari
stressed that civil war in Syria would mean "an explosion in all the
area" which would have an impact on everyone in the region.
"People should be reasonable, calculate their words,
think before speaking lightly and act really with the sense of
responsibility," Ja'afari said referring to the use of the expression
'civil war' by some officials and representatives of states.
As the action unfolded in Syria, world leaders aired their differences over the conflict at the G20 Summit at the Mexican resort of Los Cabos.
Speaking at the summit, Obama said Assad has lost all legitimacy and that it was impossible to conceive of any solution to the violence in Syria that leaves him in power. Obama conceded he had failed to make a breakthrough with the leaders of Russia or China despite intensive talks.
"I wouldn't suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war," he told reporters.
He said it is important for the world community to work with the United Nations and international mediator Kofi Annan "on what a political transition would look like. ... But I don't think it would be fair to say that the Russians and the Chinese are signed on at this point."
In turn, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Putin had shifted his view of Assad during talks with Obama and other world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, and that discussions were now focused on a transition of power in Syria.
But Putin immediately seemed to contradict that notion, telling reporters at the end of the summit: "We believe that nobody has the right to decide for other nations who should be brought to power, who should be removed from power."
Alarmed but apparently impotent to resolve the crisis, the outside world is deeply divided in its response to an increasingly sectarian conflict that threatens to become a proxy war for regional powers.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Cameron were present with Obama for the talks with Putin.
"There remain differences over sequencing and the shape of how the transition takes place but it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria," Cameron told reporters.
"What we need next is an agreement on a transitional leadership which can move Syria to a democratic future that protects the rights of all its communities," Cameron added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Cameron's statement that Putin does not want Assad to remain in power "does not correspond to reality."