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Red Cross desperate to deliver aid as Syria shells Homs again

An aid convoy has been refused access to Baba Amr district of Homs, where residents have been without water for the last four days. Elsewhere in Syria, there have been anti-government protests following Friday prayers. Human rights campaigners claim that 13 people were killed when troops fired a mortar into a crowd of demonstrators in the town of Rastan. Britain's Channel Four News correspondent Carl Dinnen reports.

Armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday bombarded the Jobar residential neighborhood of Homs, where a standoff continued between a Red Cross convoy and the government that has blocked the delivery of food, medical supplies and blankets to the thousands still stranded in the area.

Thousands of civilians from another area overrun by the army have taken refuge in the neighborhood, an opposition activist organization said.


"In an act of pure revenge, Assad's army has been firing mortar rounds and ... machine guns since this morning at Jobar. We have no immediate reports of casualties because of the difficulty of communications," the Syrian Network for Human Rights said in statement.

Jobar is adjacent to the district of Baba Amr in Homs, from where Free Syrian Army rebels pulled out this week after almost a month of army shelling. Activists reported mass executions by loyalist troops who subsequently entered the area.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network said mortars slammed into Khaldiyeh, Bab Sbaa and Khader districts of the city early Saturday.

Red Cross supplies arrived in the stricken Syrian city of Homs on Friday as evidence mounted of its humanitarian crisis after a month of bombardment from President Bashar Assad's forces. ITV's Paul Davies reports.

Graphic: The siege of Homs

Abu Hassan al-Homsi, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Khaldiyeh district of Homs, said he treated a dozen wounded.

"This has become routine, the mortars start falling early in the morning," he said. Several homes were damaged from the morning shelling, which he described as steady but intermittent. Most of those he treated were lightly wounded, al-Homsi added.

Aid convoy blocked
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Saturday it was still negotiating with Syrian authorities who have denied its aid convoy access to the shattered Baba Amr district.

An ICRC convoy of seven trucks carrying food and other life-saving relief supplies, joined by Red Crescent ambulances to evacuate the sick and wounded, has been stalled in the city of Homs since arriving there on Friday.

Red Cross convoy prevented from entering former Syrian rebel stronghold

"The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent are not yet in Baba Amr today (Saturday). We are still in negotiations with authorities in order to enter Baba Amro. It is important that we enter today," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger, in a statement issued on Friday after waiting all day for Syrian authorities to grant entry to the team, said the delay was "unacceptable" as civilians had waited for weeks for emergency assistance.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday he had received "grisly reports" Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in the battle-scarred city of Homs after rebel fighters had fled.

PhotoBlog: The fear of carnage to come

'Terrorist' suicide bombs
Meanwhile, the Syrian state news agency Sana reported Saturday that a suicide bomber killed two people and wounded several others in the southern town of Deraa.

"The terrorist explosion led to the martyrdom of two citizens," the agency said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that at least two people were killed and several others wounded in the explosion.

Syrians flee to northern Lebanon

Syria has seen a string of suicide bombings, the last on Feb. 10, when twin suicide bombs struck security compounds in the government stronghold city of Aleppo, killing 28 people and bringing significant violence for the first time to the city.

The capital Damascus, another stronghold of Assad's, has seen three suicide bombings in the past two months.

The regime has touted the attacks as proof that it is being targeted by "terrorists." The opposition accuses forces loyal to the government of being behind the bombings to tarnish the uprising.

Saturday's bombing in Deraa marked the first time a suicide bombing struck an opposition stronghold. Daraa is the birthplace of the nearly year-old uprising against Assad. The revolt has killed more than 7,500 people, according to most recent U.N. estimates.

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Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.