Syria Shells Homs, Blocks Red Cross
Civilians stranded without fuel or food in cold conditions
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2012 5:24 PM CST
Flames rise from a house from Syrian government shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, February 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)

(Newser) – Syrian forces continued to pound the city of Homs today and blocked the Red Cross from reaching civilians who are enduring cold weather without fuel or food, Reuters reports. Syria is exacting revenge on Homs for harboring rebels who pulled out this week, according to a human rights group: "Assad's army has been firing mortar rounds and ... machine guns since this morning," the group said, adding that casualty reports are impossible to obtain amid the chaos of the bombardment.

The Red Cross says Syrian authorities approved its entry into Homs, but government forces stopped the aid trucks due to unsafe conditions such as "mines and booby traps." "Civilians will need food, it's cold, they will need blankets," said a Red Cross spokesman. "And there are injured there that need to be evacuated immediately." On the diplomatic front, Britain vowed to again seek UN Security Council action, and Washington is drafting a council resolution to end the violence and allow aid into civilian war zones.