Looks like Assad is relenting, or is he?
THE UN humanitarian chief has visited the battered Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr with a Syrian Red Crescent team, as Washington revealed it is mulling non-lethal aid to the rebels.
Valerie Amos was stopped from going into areas of Homs still held by the opposition, despite receiving assurances from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in earlier talks that she could go to any part of the country, her spokeswoman Amanda Pitt told AFP.
"She says that the parts they saw were completely devastated," Ms Pitt told AFP. "She said Homs feels like a city that has been completely closed down.
"There were very few people around. They did see a few people looking for their belongings, that kind of thing."
The group "tried to get into opposition areas, but they were not able to do so. Security was definitely an issue. They heard gunfire as well," Ms Pitt said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a child was among four people shot dead on Wednesday in Khaldiyeh, a Homs neighbourhood where rebels remain active.
They were among 19 people killed in violence nationwide, the Britain-based watchdog added.
The Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross had been trying since last Friday to enter Baba Amr -- the target of a month-long bombardment to oust rebel fighters -- but the government repeatedly barred them from evacuating wounded civilians and delivering desperately needed supplies.
Ms Amos and the Red Crescent team were only able to make a lightning tour of Baba Amr during her hard-won visit, ICRC officials said.
"Amos entered with the team of volunteers from the Syrian Red Crescent, which stayed 45 minutes in the district," ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said in Geneva.
Aid was being distributed to the displaced civilians in the areas where they had found refuge and some 350 families had been given assistance over the past two days, he said.
Last week, ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger called the government's decision to deny aid workers access to Baba Amr "unacceptable."
The authorities said the earlier ban was prompted by safety concerns but the opposition charged that the delay was aimed at allowing time for the regime's "crimes" to be covered up.