BEIRUT, Lebanon — An aid convoy sent by the International Committee of the Red Cross was barred from entering the besieged Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr today, prompting Jakoba Kellenberger, president of the ICRC, to label Syria's actions "unacceptable," the Associated Press reported.
The aid convoy would have been the first major relief in the neighborhood since shelling started nearly a month ago, The New York Times reported. The ICRC said it would remain in Homs overnight with hopes of entering Baba Amr tomorrow morning.
Earlier today, a spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed "alarm" over reports of "grisly" summary executions in Baba Amr, the rebellious Homs neighborhood that Syrian government forces overran yesterday. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group that tracks deaths and anti-regime activity in Syria, said 14 were executed "in the field," though other reports of the number vary. The group said 61 have been killed in violence today, as of 6 p.m.
The Times reported that the Syrian government's strategy is to "stall for enough time to regain control of one hot spot at a time while pushing its own proposals for limited political change," reflecting the reality that it does not have enough well-trained troops to subdue different cities simultaneously. "But it remains a race against exhaustion, defections and diminished resources," the Times wrote.
Little activist news has emerged from Baba Amr since the Syrian army overwhelmed rebel positions there but SANA, the Syrian state news agency, has been publishing controversial reports from Homs. Earlier, activists posted videos on YouTube that purportedly showed the burial of the bodies of Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin, but SANA said "competent authorities" had recovered these bodies and were performing DNA tests. It said the corpses would be repatriated to their home countries via the Polish embassy, which is acting as a proxy for departed Western powers.
The state news agency also reported the death of Javier Espinosa, a Spanish journalist with El Mundo. Espinosa is alive and tweeting from Beirut, where he said:
From Beirut, Espinosa described life inside the Baba Amr media center. According to CNN, Espinosa said shelling began every day precisely at 6 a.m., and continued until 6 p.m., with a one-hour break at 1 p.m. for lunch. Espinosa spoke to Anderson Cooper in his Thursday evening broadcast.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that the French embassy in Damascus would be closed, and French embassy officials in Beirut said that Edith Bouvier, a journalist injured in the strike that killed Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, was in stable condition and would return to Europe today. In addition, the European Union on Friday announced it will recognize the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, CNN reported.
Below is a video that purportedly shows shelling of a peaceful demonstration in Rastan, a district of Homs.
WARNING: this footage contains graphic images.