UK to send £2m for Syrian civilians as Assad step ups ‘butchery’

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Syrian troops have shelled rebel-held neighbourhoods in the city of Homs, a day after the UN General Assembly condemned human rights violations by the regime.

The bombardment came as Britain announced it is to supply £2m in aid to Syrian civilians suffering as a result of the bloody crackdown on protests against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian rule.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday shells were slamming into the Homs neighbourhoods of Baba Amr, Bayadah, Khaldiyeh and Inshaat.

Syrian troops have been attacking the neighbourhoods on February 4. Amateur videos showed at least one tank shelling Baba Amr from a close distance.

Homs, a province in central Syria that stretches from the border with Lebanon in the west to the frontiers with Iraq and Jordan in the east, has been one of the key centres of the 11-month-old uprising against Assad’s rule.

The rebels have taken control of small parts of the province including neighbourhoods in the city of Homs and the nearby town of Rastan.

The British aid package was announced by David Cameron at a UK-France summit in France,

The Prime Minister said that the money will provide vitally needed medical supplies and food for more than 20,000 people affected by fighting in the city of Homs and elsewhere in Syria.

Mr Cameron said the situation in Syria was “appalling” and he did not believe the international community was doing everything it could to stop Assad’s “butchery” of his people. But he cautioned that the position was not the same as in Libya, where the world came together last year behind a UN resolution authorising military action to defend civilians.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused the Syrian regime of committing “almost certain” crimes against humanity. The UN General Assembly also overwhelmingly voted for a resolution that strongly condemns human rights violations by Assad’s government. According to the UN, more than 5,400 people have been killed since March in the regime’s bloody crackdown.

The 193-member UN General Assembly voted 137-12 on the Arab-sponsored resolution calling on Assad to hand power to his vice president and immediately stop the crackdown.. Though there are no vetoes in the General Assembly and its resolutions are non-binding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues. Russia and China, who recently vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security Council, voted against the General Assembly measure along with North Korea, Cuba and others who heeded Syria’s appeal against the measure.