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Aid work resumes after mortar fire

Aid workers resumed humanitarian operations in Homs yesterday, a day after they came under mortar fire in the besieged rebel heart of the Syrian city, evacuating dozens of civilians and sending in supplies to 2500 people trapped by civil war.

Homs governor Talal al Barazi told Al Mayadeen television that 65 women, children and elderly men were able to leave the devastated neighbourhoods in central Homs.

Syrian state television said humanitarian supplies were also sent into districts where rebel fighters and civilians have been besieged for a year and a half, despite coming under fire from rebel forces. It did not say if anyone was hurt in the attack, which if confirmed would be a further violation of a three-day humanitarian ceasefire due to expire yesterday evening.

President Bashar al Assad's authorities and rebel fighters have traded accusations of responsibility for attacks which stranded a joint United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent team in central Old Homs for several hours after dark on Saturday.

The convoy was targeted just as the relief workers were handing over food and medical supplies. The Red Crescent said one of its drivers was lightly wounded but the rest of the team eventually left central Homs safely.

Video footage released by activists showed the joint team, led by UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria Yacoub el Hillo, taking refuge on Saturday in a basement while explosions rocked the rubble-strewn, devastated streets above them.

In another video filmed inside Homs on Saturday, Mr Hillo said the aid supplies, including food parcels, medicines and hygiene kits, were just a drop in the ocean when set against the conditions endured by people trapped for a year and a half.

"When I look around me and see the level of need, and suffering of all - especially the children, the women and the elderly - let me say that even though it's a significant amount of medical and nutritional aid, it's still just a drop," he said.

"But let's start with this drop".

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