The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross appealed Friday to Syria for access to those wounded and detained in clashes with security forces, as President Bashar Assad's troops continued their nationwide assaults on civilians.
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"Despite repeated requests to the Syrian authorities, we have not been granted meaningful access to those in need," ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger said. "Vital humanitarian assistance must reach vulnerable people without delay."
Meanwhile, Syrian troops backed by dozens of tanks massed outside a virtually deserted town near the Turkish border Friday, preparing to move in after protesters and mutinous forces rose up against Assad's rule.
By Friday afternoon, Syrian activists said that at least 28 people were killed in protests and army operations across Syria Friday, mostly in north. .
Tanks were on the outer edges of Jisr al-Shughour, preparing to enter, an AP reporter accompanying Syrian troops on a government-organized trip said. He said the army announced the start of operations at around 5 am Friday. Witnesses contacted by telephone said most residents had abandoned the town of up to 45,000.
Citing contacts inside Syria, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the London-based head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said more than 10,000 soldiers, including elite units, were involved. Helicopters ferried some troops to the area, he said.
The military operations are part of a crackdown on the three-month-old uprising against Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.
Human rights groups say more than 1,300 people have died in the nationwide crackdown, most of them unarmed civilians. A government spokeswoman has countered that a total of 500 security forces had died in the revolt.
AFP contributed to the report
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