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New bid to evacuate trapped Syrian civilians fails

This image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network and accessed Wednesday, June 20, 2012, purports to show smoke rising from buildings in Rastan town, Homs province, Syria.


A second attempt to evacuate trapped civilians from besieged areas of Syria's third-largest city Homs failed on Thursday, the Red Crescent said, adding it would try again on Friday.

"Unfortunately, a second attempt, which we carried out in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, has failed," the Red Crescent's Khaled Erksoussi said.

"The ICRC team has now left the city and is on its way to Damascus," Mr. Erksoussi said. "The team will follow up on its mission again tomorrow... in order to evacuate the civilians."

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Gunfire halted an earlier attempt to relieve those trapped, the ICRC said, although the two agencies had hoped negotiations would allow a relief convoy to enter later in the day.

"An ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent team tried this morning (Thursday) to enter the old city of Homs to evacuate the wounded, sick and others," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said.

"Unfortunately the team had to turn and come back due to shooting. We are going to try to enter the old city once again this afternoon."

Hundreds of people are believed to be trapped in the historic heart of Homs and are unable to flee or find shelter because of the fighting, the Geneva-based agency said.

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