Red Cross rescue fails as Assad's tanks roll back into Homs

President hails victory in referendum on new constitution – but the onslaught continues

The Turkish-Syrian border

Syria's interior ministry announced yesterday that 89.4 per cent
of voters had approved a new government-proposed constitution in a
referendum held on Sunday that would limit the presidency of Bashar
al-Assad and impose multi-party elections. But at the same time as
the results were being announced, opposition activists reported a
fresh onslaught against Homs.

Despite the seemingly impressive result – there has been no independent verification – the government in Damascus conceded that 57.4 per cent of voters had bothered, or had been able, to cast their ballots. The result, if adopted, will allow President Assad to stay in power for another 16 years.

The referendum result was followed last night by news that the Red Cross had entered Homs but had failed to recover a number of injured journalists who have been trapped, short of medical supplies, for nearly a week. They include the Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy.

Three injured civilians were evacuated from the Baba Amr district in ambulances operated by the organisation's local affiliate, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. But the Red Cross later confirmed that neither the journalists nor the bodies of their dead counterparts, Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times and French photographer Rémi Ochlik, had been removed, adding that the reason was unknown.

Another violent day began in Syria even before the referendum results were announced. According to the London-based activist group Avaaz, troops loyal to the Assad regime had begun a major ground invasion of the Inasha'at neighbourhood of Homs in the early morning, moving in with tanks. Inasha'at is close to the opposition stronghold of Baba Amr and has already seen about 80 per cent of its population flee the fighting. At least 21 people were killed yesterday in Homs, according to activists.

"They are using all kinds of weapons to hit us," said Adnan Maree, 28, a lawyer speaking from Baba Amr. "In my neighbourhood, they are using shock bombs to collapse buildings. We are not seeking [foreign] governments' help. Now we are talking to the people of those countries."

An increasing number of activists are being vocally critical of the West for doing little to intervene in the crisis, which is quickly becoming a civil war. The European Union did move yesterday and imposed new sanctions on Syria, freezing the assets of the country's central bank, restricting trade in gold, diamonds and precious metals, introducing a ban on cargo flights into the EU, and blacklisting seven individuals close to Mr Assad.

As pressure against the regime increased, the Red Cross was able to gain access to the city of Hama. Food and other aid was delivered for 12,000 people. The city, where at least 10,000 people were killed when regime forces massacred members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s, has been hard hit due to its reputation for dissent.

Yet key international support for the Assad regime remains. Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, lashed out at countries that were holding discussions to arm the Free Syrian Army, saying he would not support military action in Syria without United Nations support.

China also spoke out, after comments made by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that Russia and China's vetoing of the UN Security Council resolutions were "despicable".

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn