United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has visited Baba Amr, becoming the first international official to enter the embattled Syrian district since fighting began.
Her visit is expected to result in the first outside assessment of conditions in an area of Homs city which has been the target of heavy military shelling and the scene of unquantifiable deaths, including those of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.
It comes after Bashar Assad’s regime rebuffed an earlier request by Amos to visit the region.
The UN chief said the aim of today’s mission was to “urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies”.
Once in Baba Amr, she spent around 45 minutes surveying the devastation, accompanied by officials from the Syrian Red Crescent.
Volunteers said most of the inhabitants appeared to have left the stricken district.
Many are understood to have decamped to outlying areas where relief teams have been distributing food parcels, blankets and baby milk.
Despite international appeals, the Syrian government has still refused to allow any aid workers into Baba Amr, claiming security risks.
But activists have accused the government of conducting a “mopping-up” operation to hide its activities.