Dicey relief mission in Syria comes up short

Feb. 9, 2014 at 10:10 AM

HOMS, Syria, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Workers for the Arab Red Crescent said four of their colleagues were wounded in the harrowing relief mission to Homs, Syria, this weekend.

Gunfire and explosions caused the injuries and damaged many of the nine Red Crescent and U.N. vehicles that entered the besieged city despite a supposed cease-fire between Syrian troops and anti-government rebels.

It took a full day of intensive negotiations Saturday to clear a safe path for the aid workers to get out of Homs; however, they were unable to evacuate more any of the estimated 2,500 civilians believed surrounded in the city's Old Quarter, the Wall Street Journal said Sunday.

The U.N.-led operation was based on a three-day cease-fire that began Friday. Aid workers were able to hustle 83 elderly civilians and children out of Homs as the truce quickly degenerated. Both sides blamed the other for the violations. The United Nations said it had hoped to get 230 people out on Friday alone.

The Journal said the Syrian government balked at the agreed-upon terms, insisting that only two of the nine relief vehicles be allowed to enter the city, and only if a group of 63 Christian civilians at a monastery were first taken to safety.

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