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Red Cross trying to broker ceasefire in Syria

International Committee of the Red Cross in talks with “all those concerned” in Syria’s conflict to allow delivery of emergency aid to civilians affected by fighting.

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Syrian families hide in a shelter near Baba Amr neighbourhood in the beleaguered city of Homs. The city has been under constant fire from government forces for weeks. (-/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it is in talks with “all those concerned” in Syria’s conflict to try to broker a ceasefire so that it can deliver emergency aid to those most affected by ongoing fighting in the country.

Carla Haddad, a spokeswoman for the Geneva-based organization, said the ICRC had been in talks with Syrian authorities and opposition groups for some time, but that efforts to negotiate a ceasefire had only recently begun, the Associated Press reported.

“We are currently discussing several possibilities with all those concerned, and it includes a cessation of fighting in the most affected areas,” Haddad said, adding that the talks were geared towards facilitating “swift access to people in need,” rather than resolving political differences between the Syrian government and the opposition.

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Diplomatic sources reportedly told Reuters that the ICRC is seeking a two-hour cessation of hostilities in several hotspots, including Homs, an opposition stronghold that has been under constant fire for weeks from government forces.

Today’s announcement follows reports from opposition groups on Monday that Syrian troops commenced a 17th day of shelling of rebel positions in the city, according to CNN.

The ICRC is the only international agency with aid workers deployed in Syria. It has been delivering food and medical supplies to civilians in cities across the country since a popular uprising began 11 months ago, but in recent weeks has had more difficulties reaching rebel-held areas and evacuating the wounded, due to an intensified crackdown.

Thousands have died in the conflict, with human rights groups putting the figure at above 7,000.  

More from GlobalPost: Syria allows Red Cross to tour Damascus prison 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120220/red-cross-trying-broker-ceasefire-syria