Syria Bombs Bridge Used by Escaping Refugees
On Tuesday, regime forces “bombarded a bridge near Qusayr, in Homs province, which is used by refugees and the wounded fleeing to Lebanon,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Britain-based Syrian observatory for human rights. The bridge acted as the main route used to evacuate the wounded from the city of Homs, as it was two miles from the Lebanon border and straddles the Orontes River. Rahman felt the Syrian military is “trying to cut off all access routes between Lebanon and Syria, especially in the region of Qusayr and Tall Kalakh.”
Supporting the opening of humanitarian aid corridors Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that ”humanitarian aid corridors must immediately be opened.” While not commenting on the location of such an aid corridor, Erdogan believes, “some countries’ hesitant approach is strengthening the Assad administration.”
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross, is in its fourth day of negotiations with Syrian authorities to be allowed to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded from the Baba Amr district in the city of Homs. This follows the withdraw of the Free Syria Army, and Syrian officials who vowed the rebel-held parts would be “cleansed.” While in Damascus humanitarian relief has been approved to take place from Wednesday to Friday. According to Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief, the purpose of her visit would be “to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so that they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies.”
Following John McCain‘s (R-AZ) speech delivered on the Senate floor – which called for U.S. led air strikes to halt the violence in Syria - President Barack Obama remains committed to diplomatic efforts to end the violence. “The President has repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the violence in Syria. Currently the administration is focused on diplomatic and political approaches rather than a military intervention,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. Hussein Ibish believes the U.S. is adopting a neurotic foreign policy approach to the conflict in Syria and is focused “on ways of avoiding facing this ugly reality and dealing with it proactively.”
In related news, following President Nicholas Sarkozy March 2 closure of the French embassy in Damascus, which cited months-long crackdown on protesters, the French Ambassador to Syria Eric Chevallier safely entered Lebanon en route to Paris. Likewise, Canada has closed its embassy in Damascus, but cited security concerns for the closure.