The International Committee of the Red Cross has been granted access to a detention facility in Syria for the first time since unrest broke out in the country, the committee's president said Monday after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger called the breakthrough "an important step forward for our humanitarian activities in Syria."
Kellenberger's meeting with al-Assad occurred amid mounting reports of bloodshed by Syrian security forces.
On Monday, security forces killed six people during an ongoing crackdown in the province of Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.
Syria has been engulfed in public protest for months, and the regime has been accused internationally of a crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. The government has maintained that it is targeting armed terrorists. But opposition activists say it is a systematic, sustained slaughter.
"Ensuring that the sick and the wounded have access to medical care will be among the particularly urgent humanitarian challenges to be addressed with the Syrian authorities," the Red Cross said in a statement.
The committee will initially be allowed to see only people detained by the Ministry of Interior, Kellenberger said, adding, "We are hopeful that we will soon be able to visit all detainees.FULL STORY