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Syria to keep seat on UN human rights committee?

The British Ambassador to Syria told ITV News President Assad's shelling and attacks will lead to his downfall. ITN's Paul Davies reports.

Updated 11:30 a.m. ET: U.N. cultural agency UNESCO is set to condemn Syria at its executive board meeting on Wednesday but fall short of Western and Arab hopes of expelling it from its human rights committee, according to a draft resolution obtained by Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, a team of aid workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered the devastated Homs district of Baba Amr.  The team was accompanied by U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who recently arrived in the city.


"The Syrian Arab Red Crescent stayed inside Baba Amr for about 45 minutes. They found that most inhabitants had left Baba Amr to areas that have been already visited by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in the past week," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.

An ICRC aid convoy has been unable to enter Baba Amr since reaching Homs a day after rebel fighters fled.

The long delay in securing access for relief agencies trying to deliver supplies and evacuate the wounded has fuelled international concern about the fate of survivors in Baba Amr.

UNESCO board
The U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) executive board, which includes the United States, France and Russia, elected Syria to two panels in November, including one that judges human rights violations.

NYT: Across a murky river, Syrians flee to safety

A group of Western and Arab nations had sought the expulsion of Syria from the U.N. cultural agency's human rights committee, the latest international effort to isolate Damascus over its violent crackdown on domestic unrest.

The resolution submitted by countries including Saudi Arabia, the United States and the Britain condemns Damascus for "the continued widespread and systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities."

The resolution also requests for UNESCO's Director General to report on the matter in the future. It makes no mention of Syria's membership of the human rights committee.

Report: Syrian military hospitals torturing patients

A vote was pushed back to Thursday, a source said.

Diplomacy has yet to brake a conflict likely to have cost more than 10,000 lives: the United Nations says security forces have killed well over 7,500 people and Syria said in December that "terrorists" had killed more than 2,000 security personnel. 

Amos in Homs
Amos had wanted to visit Syria last week, but was denied access. The Syrian military drove armed rebels from the battered Baba Amr district on Thursday after a month-long siege and state media say civilians have begun returning there.

EPA / Salvatore di Nolfi

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos accompanied a team of aid workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent who entered the devastated Homs district of Baba Amr on Wednesday.

In another effort to stop the violence, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan plans his first visit to Damascus as joint envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League on Saturday.

There was no information on what food or medical aid the Red Crescent workers were able to take with them into Baba Amr. The ICRC had not gained permission from Syrian authorities to enter the area since last Friday, raising fears about the fate of survivors in Baba Amr.

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Syrian tanks bombarded other opposition areas in Homs overnight, anti-Assad activists said, although an ICRC spokesman in Damascus said the city was quieter than before.

No independent witnesses have been allowed into the devastated Baba Amr district since rebels withdrew.

In the latest of several accounts of killings and other abuses, local activist Mohammed al-Homsi said troops and pro-Assad militiamen had stabbed to death seven males, including a 10-year-old, from one family on Tuesday. "Their bodies were dumped in farmland next to Baba Amr," he told Reuters.

Syria imposes severe media restrictions, making such reports hard to verify, although U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced alarm at reports that Syrian government forces have executed, imprisoned and tortured people in Baba Amr.

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Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report