Red Cross Fails To Negotiate More Homs Evacuations

The Red Cross failed to reach a deal with Syrian authorities and opposition members Saturday for a break in fighting so wounded people could be evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, an agency spokesman said.

The Red Cross failed to reach a deal with Syrian authorities and opposition members Saturday for a break in fighting so wounded people could be evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, an agency spokesman said.

"There has been no evacuation from Homs today. We simply could not reach any kind of agreement," International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh said from Damascus.

He said the ICRC will continue trying to negotiate for access.

The frustrated talks took place one day after Syrian forces agreed to a brief cease-fire in Homs to allow Red Crescent volunteer crews to evacuate seven wounded people, ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told CNN in a telephone interview. Twenty Syrian women and children, who were not hurt, were also evacuated, he said.

The ICRC has urged combatants to stop fighting for two hours each day to deliver humanitarian aid to Homs and other cities.

The calls for a cessation of violence come amid increasingly dire reports in Homs from the opposition and humanitarian organizations, who describe a lack of medical supplies, food and water shortages, and an increasing body count.

Friday's evacuation offered a glimmer of hope for Homs residents who had been trapped by shelling and sniper fire for three weeks.

At least 47 of the 100 people killed across Syria on Saturday died in Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition groups.

Among those killed was 17-year-old Anas al-Tarsheh, an opposition videographer who primarily documented the shelling of the Sunni-dominated Homs neighborhood of Inshaat, the LCC said.

Deaths also occurred in the Hama suburbs, the Aleppo suburbs, Daraa province and Idlib province, the group said. A rebel leader in Idlib said Syrian soldiers burned houses, shelled towns and deployed snipers. Free Syrian Army Lt. Col. Mohamed Hamado said the empty Idlib house of FSA commander Col. Riad al-Assad was burned and destroyed.

More than 100 civilians were arrested during a raid of Rhaibeh in the Damascus suburbs, and 22 residents and three defected soldiers were arrested at a military checkpoint in Daraa, the LCC said.

Also Saturday, the mother of Marie Colvin, a veteran correspondent for The Sunday Times of London who was killed in a shelling attack in Homs, said her daughter's body will likely be buried now in Syria. Aid workers determined removing the body would be too dangerous, she said.

It is unclear how quickly massive humanitarian aid efforts proposed at a meeting of international leaders Friday can begin to make its way into Syria.

The Friends of Syria group, consisting of dozens of nations, including the United States and members of the European Union and the Arab League, was formed to deal with the Syrian crisis after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution this month addressing the Syrian crisis.

The aid proposal calls for a plan to store relief -- from food to medical supplies -- in temporary stations in neighboring countries that can be moved into Syria at a moment's notice.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League on the Syrian crisis, will oversee the effort. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's government has given no indication it is willing to accept such aid.

The reports of violence in Homs and other locations Saturday came on the eve of a constitutional referendum that al-Assad has called a reform initiative, but has been widely ridiculed as a superficial measure undertaken to mollify critics.

Syrian civilians are saying that regime authorities are pressuring them into voting for the referendum, Hamado said.

CNN and other media outlets cannot independently verify opposition or government reports because Syria has severely limited access to the country by foreign journalists.

World powers have strongly condemned the year-long crackdown against civilians calling for his ouster. The LCC reports the death toll is around 9,000, while the Syrian government says more than 2,000 security forces have been killed.

The conflict erupted in mid-March of 2011, when al-Assad's Alawite minority-dominated government launched a crackdown against a predominantly Sunni anti-government protest movement that eventually devolved into an uprising with an armed resistance. Al-Assad is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Al-Assad has denied targeting civilians, saying his forces are after "terrorists" and foreign fighters bent on destabilizing Syria.

But evidence that civilians are being killed by government forces has been documented by citizen journalists and the opposition who post their work on social media websites and YouTube.

Nearly 70 countries and international entities gathered the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia agreed to increase political and economic pressure on al-Assad.

The meeting prepared groundwork for a political transition in Syria not unlike the international planning that preceded the fall of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi last year.

Al-Assad's government scoffed at the plans, with Syria state television dismissing the meeting as a gathering of "icons from the colonial era who are conspiring against Syria and the Arab world."