Syria Approves U.N. Humanitarian Chief Visit

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U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Monday that Syria has approved a visit to the conflict-stricken country this week.

Following widespread U.N. and Security Council complaints about President Bashar al-Assad's refusal to let her in, Amos said she would arrive in Damascus on Wednesday and leave on Friday.

"The Syrian authorities have confirmed that I can visit Syria this week. I will arrive in Damascus on Wednesday March 7 and leave on Friday March 9," Amos said in a statement.

"As requested by the secretary-general, my aim is to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so that they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies," she added.

The United Nations is not yet sure whether Amos will be allowed to travel outside Damascus during her stay, her spokeswoman, Amanda Pitt, told Agence France Presse.

The U.N. announced on February 22 that U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon had told Amos to go to Syria to press for greater access for aid groups to the protest cities where the global body says more than 7,500 people have been killed in the past 11 months.

But the Syrian government kept refusing to give the green light, though it said it was waiting for Amos to propose a date.

On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed a statement calling on Syria to allow "immediate" humanitarian access. Even Russia and China, which vetoed two council statements on Syria, signed up to the statement.

Ban said on Friday that conditions in Syria were now "atrocious" and that there were "grisly" reports of summary executions and torture coming out of the protest city of Homs where the international Red Cross and other groups have not been given full access.

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