Free Syrian Army makes "tactical withdrawal" from Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr


A Syrian man carries bread from a nearby bakery as he walks under the snow in Qusayr, 15 kms (nine miles) from Homs, on March 1, 2012. Gianluici Guercia/AFP.


Gianluici Guercia

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Free Syrian Army on Thursday made a "tactical withdrawal" from rebel-controlled neighborhoods of Homs, just a day after the Syrian army scaled back its artillery bombardment and began a ground incursion to "clean" the district, the Associated Press reported.

Al Arabiya said a security official claimed the Syrian army controlled "all" of Baba Amr. Information flow from activists to the outside world slowed after reports of a ground assault circulated on Wednesday.

Syrian authorities will let Red Cross and Red Crescent aid workers enter the Baba Amr district on Friday, according to Reuters. Hicham Hassan, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said they will be allowed to deliver supplies and evacuate the sick and wounded.

The Syrian opposition directly appealed to the ICRC, which is the only international humanitarian agency currently deploying aid workers in Syria, and the Syrian authorities responded positively to an appeal from the ICRC for a daily, two-hour ceasefire, during which it could carry out its mission, said Reuters.

Following the FSA withdrawal, fears are mounting that the Syrian government may move to exact revenge on civilians, as it did following a 1982 uprising in Hama, according to The New York Times: "A campaign of raids and arrests began almost immediately in the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, which said 17 people had died in Baba Amr on Thursday."

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The FSA said they withdrew to spare the lives of the 4,000 civilians who remain in their homes. The FSA said they "did not have enough weapons" to continue, the BBC said

Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council formally voted to condemn Syria for widespread human rights violations. The adopted resolution can be read here.

The resolution addressed attacks on civilians; shortages of food, medicine, and other supplies; "impunity" enjoyed by Syrian government officials; and the refugee burden being carried by Syria's neighbors.

The UN Security Council also demanded immediate access to Syria for humanitarian chief, Baroness Valerie Amos, said the BBC. In a statement, the Security Council said, "The members of the Security Council call upon the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law."

Below is a video reportedly showing Homs residents using pots to collect snow for drinking water.