Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Aid workers hurt in Syria explosion

An image mad from amateur video shows black smoke rising from buildings in Homs, Syria (AP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has revealed three aid workers suffered minor injuries in Syria when an explosion hit their convoy.

The group said the two Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and one ICRC staff member were travelling with other aid workers from Aleppo to Idlib when the blast hit their marked vehicles.

A spokesman for the ICRC in Geneva said the aid workers were taken to a medical facility and that their injuries are minor. Hicham Hassan told reporters it is the first time Red Cross workers have been injured since the start of violence in Syria last year.

He added that the ICRC does not know if it was targeted in the explosion, or who was responsible for it.

Earlier, Syrian forces pushed out scores of rebels holed up in a rebellious area near the Mediterranean coast, with state television claiming they had regained control of the region following eight days of fierce fighting.

The mountainous Haffa region is one of several areas where government forces are battling rebels for control in escalating violence. Recovering it is particularly important to the regime because the town is about 20 miles from president Bashar Assad's hometown of Kardaha in Latakia province.

Latakia is the heartland of the Alawite minority to which Mr Assad and the ruling elite belong, although there is a mix of religious groups there.

France has said Syria is already in a civil war, echoing a similar statement by UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Tuesday. The new French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told a news conference in Paris: "If you can't call it a civil war, then there are no words to describe it."

Earlier, Syria's foreign ministry expressed "astonishment" over Mr Ladsous' statement that the country was already in a civil war. The ministry said it lacked objectivity, was "far from reality" and inaccurate.

State television said regime forces had "cleansed" Haffa from "armed terrorist groups", while the foreign ministry urged UN observers to immediately head there.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz