The International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent have sent a seven-truck convoy of food and medical supplies to the city of Homs after rebel fighter drew from the city under siege. Opposition fighter orchestarted a "tactical withdrawal" from the Baba Amr neighborhood (pictured above) on Thursday after more than three weeks of near-constant bombardment from government forces. It's the first time the humanitarian group had been allowed to travel to the city since the assault began last month.
No one knows for certain how many of Baba Amr residents are still in their homes, but volunteers expect to find large numbers of wounded and sick civilians. Activists said they helped some residents escape the city before retreating, but that a few thousand did not want to leave and rebels hoped to spare them any more bombings and rockets. The area had been cut off from the rest of the city after opposition forces concentrated in the neighborhood and, in response, the government directed the bulk of its attack on their stronghold. Among those who left the city are two French journalists Edith Bouvier and William Daniels, who were severely injured in attacks last week.
The loss of the city was a major defeat for Syria's rebels, but may actually provide an opportunity for rebels to rally and direct the fighting elsewhere. Both sides of the conflict agree that the Syrian army holds and overwhelming advantage of forces, but lacks the manpower and resources to dominate the entire country at one time. Now that Baba Amr has fallen, they plan to re-direct their forces to another area — most likely Hama or the Idlib Province. That could give opposition fighters a chance to regroup, perhaps back in Homs, or in some new area that the government does not currently control.
The full U.N. Security Council finally voted to demand access for the Red Cross/Red Crescent and other humanitarian groups. Though no Western forces are likely to intervene any time soon, British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to build a case against Bashar al-Assad and hold "criminal regime to account" saying today that "there will be a day of reckoning for this dreadful regime."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.