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UK 'appalled' at Syria UN chief bar

Britain is "appalled" at Syria's refusal to grant access to the UN's emergency relief co-ordinator to assess the humanitarian situation in the violence-stricken state.

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos said Damascus had denied her repeated requests to visit.

The development came as Syrian troops advanced on key rebel-held areas of Homs, the city which has become a beacon of opposition to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the refusal to allow Lady Amos into the country showed the regime's "utter disregard" for those suffering as a result of the current crisis.

In a statement released in London, Mr Mitchell said: "I am appalled at the news that UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Baroness Amos's request to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation has not been granted.

"The whole world has come together in recent days to urge the Assad regime to allow immediate and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies who are looking to assist all Syrians affected by the current crisis.

"This shows the regime's utter disregard for its people and leaves it isolated on the international stage.

"We must now rally together to make this clear and increase the pressure on the regime to alter its stance. The UK will continue to demand unfettered access and support neutral and impartial agencies in their effort to provide vital humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people."

Syria will be high on the agenda when European Union leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, meet in Brussels for a two-day summit on Thursday.

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