Shelling targets aid convoy in Old Homs, interrupting ceasefire
February 9, 2014
SHORT-LIVED TRUCE: One humanitarian worker was injured and five residents of Old Homs were killed Saturday when mortar fire shattereda United Nations-negotiated cease fire less than 48 hours after it took effect, targeting aid workers distributing food and medical aid at dusk in the 13 Old City neighborhoods that have been under siege for over 600 days.
On Sunday, humanitarian teams have been targeted intermittently after reentering the city, raising residents’ fears of attending the distribution. “People are terrified, because even the UN itself cannot protect itself,” well-known citizen journalist Bebars a-Telawi said.
On Friday, humanitarian workers managed to evacuate 83 wounded and terminally ill citizens from the neighborhoods, the first humanitarian access to the city since it was completely sealed off by surrounding government troops in November 2012.
The UN-brokered truce was intended to last for three days, the product of intensive negotiations during the first round of the Geneva II conference and subsequent efforts aimed at convincing Syrian troops to allow humanitarian aid into the city, weeks after they verbally agreed to let the ill and wounded out. 250 parcels of food aid had been distributed before shelling resumed on the city.
Mortar shelling was intended “to undermine the entry of aid to blockaded neighborhoods,” says a videographer, a citizen journalist for the pro-opposition Khaldiyeh Media Office, blaming pro-government forces for the attack. Multiple U.N workers also laid the blame on pro-government forces.
The Syrian government, meanwhile, blamed opposition groups inside Old Homs for the assault. “Four Red Crescent members were injured by terrorist fire,” official news agency SANA reported.
The UN’s Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos, took to social media Sunday to expressher frustration over the attack on the UN convoy. “Am deeply disappointed humanitarian pause was broken today in #Old Homs #Syria. Aid workers deliberately targeted. I commend their courage,” Amos tweeted.