UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visits Syria


UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos headed to the shattered central Syrian city of Homs today, where activists have accused regime forces of trying to cover up evidence of a month-long military assault and alleged execution-style killings.

Ms Amos arrived in Damascus earlier and met the foreign minister before departing for Homs. The government had rebuffed an earlier request to visit the country this month as regime troops attacked the Baba Amr district in Homs, finally wresting it back from rebels last Thursday.

Despite international appeals, the Syrian government still has not allowed any aid workers into Baba Amr, saying there was a security risk. But activists say the government has been engaged in a "mopping-up" operation to hide their activities.

Ms Amos has said the aim of her visit is "to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies."

The trip comes as Syrian President Bashar Assad defies mounting international pressure to end the year-old crackdown on an uprising against him.

The UN says more than 7,500 people have been killed since Syria's uprising began. Activists put the death toll at more than 8,000.