UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has said parts of the Syrian city of Homs have been “completely devastated”.
She said that it felt like the city had been closed down entirely.
Baroness Amos visited the city on Wednesday, briefly entering the bombed-out Baba Amr district.
Aid teams have waited days to go there, but aid officials said most residents had gone to areas already getting aid. The government retook the district last week after fierce shelling.
Activists say troops committed massacres since they entered. Damascus blames rebels for many deaths.
International media organisations are heavily restricted in Syria, making it impossible to verify the claims of either side.
The rebel Free Syrian Army left the city last week in the hope, it said, of protecting civilians from further violence.
By Mohamed Zeid Mestou
Syrian regime-affiliated “thugs” have been engaging in theft and vandalism as part of an effort to punish entire neighborhoods for rising against president Bashar al-Assad.
According to eyewitnesses from different parts of Syria, thugs loyal to the regime, also called “shabeeha” in colloquial Syrian Arabic, storm houses and steal furniture and appliances.
Dozens of videos have also shown thugs breaking stores’ locks and robbing them of the goods on display.
A housewife in the governorate of Rif Dimashq said that thugs and security forces stormed her house and stole her jewelry and money.
“They even stole clothes, shoes, and canned food,” she said. “They also broke all the furniture and my children’s toys. They also threw copies of the Quran on the floor.”
They did that, she explained, to hit back at husband for taking part in the recent anti-government protests which have urged Assad to relinquish power.
Eyewitnesses also said most of the regime loyalists, who carry out acts of theft, do so because they believe the regime is bound to fall sooner or later, trying to benefit from the lack of security and chaos which has hit the country since protests erupted in March 2010.
On Monday, the regime loyalists reportedly burned down the house of one of the activists in Rif Dimashq, then set all the cars in the street on fire and wrote pro-Assad and anti-revolution slogans on the walls.
Another resident of the governorate sent Al Arabiya a video of thugs storming his house and breaking all the furniture.
In Homs, residents also confirmed that such groups had stormed houses and stole furniture. In some cases, they said, they would steal everything and leave the houses totally empty. Some were accompanied by military trucks which they loaded with the stolen furniture to take back to their homes.
Eyewitnesses have also said that the groups are engaging in theft and vandalism because they are given the green light by security forces to do.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
By Al Arabiya with agencies
A car bomb followed by an attack by a bomber wearing an explosive vest killed 12 people in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar on Wednesday, police said.
A local official in Tal Afar said: “A parked car bomb exploded near a restaurant in central Tal Afar. Minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd.”
Police and the official said 12 people had been killed and 15 were wounded in the attack. Tal Afar is near the border with Syria, about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad and just west of the volatile northern city of Mosul.
Wikipedia: Tal Afar is a city and district in northwestern Iraq in the Ninawa Governorate located approximately 30 miles west of Mosul and 120 miles north west of Kirkuk. →