GENEVA- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday that it was holding a meeting with Syria's main opposition group in Geneva, a day after the humanitarian agency called for temporary cease-fires so it can bring in emergency aid and evacuate the wounded and sick from affected areas.
Red Cross spokesman Hisham Hassan said the meeting with members of the Syrian National Council was part of the aid group's efforts to "be in touch with all those who might have an impact in Syria."
The Red Cross says negotiations with Syrian authorities and opposition groups are at a very early stage.
"The current situation requires an immediate decision to implement a humanitarian pause in the fighting," said Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross. "In Homs and in other affected areas, entire families have been stuck for days in their homes, unable to step outside to get bread, other food or water, or to obtain medical care."
Kellenberger said the cease-fire should last at least two hours daily, so that Red Cross staff and Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have enough time to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded.
Its head of operations for the Middle East, Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, said Tuesday that the ICRC had almost no contacts with opposition figures inside Syria.
"Therefore we have to look for contacts outside Syria, and that takes time," she told The Associated Press.
SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani told reporters in Paris on Wednesday that the opposition group increasingly believes armed foreign military intervention may be the only way to end the bloodshed — but stopped short of calling for it.
The Syrian National Council is also calling for international efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance into the violence-wracked country, and wants Russia to make a diplomatic push allowing for aid convoys.
Food and water are running dangerously low in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, with frantic cries for help from residents amid government shelling that pounded rebel strongholds and killed at least 30 people Tuesday, activists told AP.
Syria state-run SANA news agency reported Wednesday “People in Homs province stressed on Tuesday that food and services are available in Homs, reiterating that the provocative channels are telling lies.”
SANA also said Wednesday “In response to the misleading and provocative campaigns carried out by suspected organizations and channels, Syria on Wednesday sent messages to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations (UN) and the Human Rights Council (HRC).
SANA said that Syria in these messages, pointed out that the Syrian government gave priority to its health sector in order to provide free health services to all its citizens through 124 public hospitals and 1919 health centers in addition to 387 private hospitals.
The United Nations estimated that 5,400 people have been killed in the 11-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and his government in the last year. Hundreds more have died since, activists groups say.