Syrian opposition warns of humanitarian crisis in Homs
Syria's main opposition group on Saturday urged the United Nations and Arab League to step in to prevent a "catastrophe" in the war-torn country, and in particular the province of Homs, DPA reported.
In a statement, the Syrian National Council (SNC) urged international organizations "to intervene quickly to save the people besieged in Homs and prevent ... a catastrophe."
SNC member Naji Tayyra told dpa: "Particularly at this time, the risk is greater in Homs, whose residents have been besieged for more than 80 days now by the regime forces.
"All supply routes to Homs have been cut, making the residents left behind facing a real and urgent danger."
Homs, a flashpoint province in the revolt that started against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, has seen some of the fiercest battles between the army and opposition in recent months.
The SNC appeal came a day after the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) said more than 200,000 Syrians have fled into neighbouring countries.
Al-Assad's forces Saturday resumed their shelling on rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus and the southern province of Daraa, opposition activists reported.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 60 people were killed across Syria on Saturday, most near the capital.
Meanwhile, rebels in northern Aleppo released one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims taken hostage in May.
Hussein Ali Omar was greeted by family members, Lebanese officials and a Turkish diplomat at Beirut airport. Omar appeared to be in good spirits and praised his captors, insisting that he and the others were "guests and not captives."
The captors said in a statement that Omar was released as a "goodwill gesture" in response to a request by a group of Lebanese Muslim clerics, as well as a request by an unnamed aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The statement said the fate of the remaining captives would be determined "after sending letters to countries neighbouring Syria, as well as all Arab and Muslim states, to inform them of the truth about the Syrian revolution."
The pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria on May 22 while on their way home from Iran.