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Russia Joins Red Cross Call For Daily Truce In Syria


The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, speaks to reporters in Moscow.
Russia has joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in calling for daily humanitarian cease-fires in Syria.

The Foreign Ministry called on the government "and all armed groups who oppose it" to agree to the cease-fires "without delay."

The statement added that Moscow "underscored the need to allow the ICRC access to all detained persons in Syria following the protests" against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The statement followed a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger in Moscow.

The organization says a two-hour daily pause in fighting is needed to evacuate the wounded and to allow in food and medicine for the worst-affected areas.

Ahead of the meeting, Kellenberger said he wanted to share with Lavrov the ICRC’s assessment of the humanitarian situation in Syria.

"Our assessment is, unfortunately, that the humanitarian situation [in Syria] is most likely to deteriorate," he said. "As you may know, we are the only organization, together with the Syrian Red Crescent, being active in the field."

The UN estimates more than 8,000 people have been killed since a revolt against Assad erupted a year ago.

Moscow, a key ally of Syria, has been calling for a permanent cease-fire on both sides for months but, along with China, vetoed two draft resolutions at the UN Security Council condemning Assad's crackdown on opponents.

The March 19 meeting followed fighting in parts of Damascus, which activists said were the heaviest clashes in the capital since a revolt against Assad's regime erupted a year ago.

Reports said the clashes erupted in the western upscale district of al-Mezzeh, which is home to embassies and government security buildings.

At least two rebels and a member of the security forces were reported killed in the violence.

Deadly fighting was reported in several other regions, including Homs, Idlib, and Daraa.

Over the weekend, bomb explosions in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city, killed some 30 people.

Meanwhile, UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan dispatched a team of experts in Damascus to discuss his proposals to deploy international monitors in Syria to try to stem the bloodshed.

In New York, France circulated a draft presidential statement at the Security Council backing Annan’s efforts to end the violence.

The Security Council is also negotiating a draft press statement, proposed by Russia, condemning the bombings in Damascus and Aleppo.

With Reuters and AFP reports