- (Photo: Reuters/Handout)
A new wave of reinforcements have amassed outside Homs, a major rebel stronghold in Syria, possibly foreshadowing a new round of violence between President Bashar al-Assad's military and opposition forces.
Syrian rebels have declared Homs "Syria's Misrata," after a Libyan city where rebels repelled government forces during that country's rebellion. Assad's regime has been desperate to retake control of Syria's third largest city after weeks of launching mortars upon rebels. Over 200 people died last month, with at least nine more dying on Monday.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is trying to negotiate a cease-fire between government forces and the rebels in order to bring aid to injured civilians. "The ICRC is exploring several possibilities for delivering urgently needed humanitarian aid. These include a cessation of fighting in the most affected areas to facilitate swift Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC access to the people in need," said ICRC spokeswoman Carla Haddad.
Reuters reported that the terms of the cease-fire would include a two-hour cessation of hostilities in many areas, including Homs. The Red Cross has been delivering food to civilians in Syria since the hostilities began, but the recent escalation of the conflict has reduced their access to many areas, leading to severe food shortages.
Response to the Syrian conflict has been varied throughout the international community. Today, Russian and Chinese officials restated their support for Assad's regime, while Iran sent a pair of warships to a Syrian naval base. After a meeting with Assad on Monday, Russian official Alexei Pushkov emphasized that Syria must continue working for a political solution to the crisis based on dialogue between all concerned parties, without foreign intervention."
On the other side, U.S. Sen. John McCain said during a visit to Cairo that "the massacre in Syria goes on." While McCain emphasized that he does not support the U.S. directly arming opposition forces in the region, he believes that other organizations, like the Arab League, could provide assistance. McCain did say the U.S. could offer other assistance, such as medical supplies or global positioning systems.