Red Cross presses for aid access in Syria

A member of the Free Syrian Army gives food to a Syrian refugee family as they wait to cross the border into Turkey, March 26, 2012. Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images

(AP) BEIRUT - The International Committee of the Red Cross pressed Syria Tuesday to give aid workers access to civilians endangered by shelling and armed clashes while fresh violence raised doubts that President Bashar Assad's regime will adhere to a U.N. peace plan.

Syria has accepted an April 10 deadline to comply with the conditions laid out by international envoy Kofi Annan, which include withdrawing government forces from populated areas and observing a cease-fire — first by the regime, then by the rebels — and talks by all sides on a political solution.

The plan also calls for an immediate daily two-hour halt to fighting so humanitarian aid can reach suffering civilians, as well as unhindered access for aid groups and journalists.

Opposition activists have blasted the plan as too little, too late and for not stipulating that Assad must leave power. They also accuse him of stalling so he can continue his crackdown on dissent.

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On Tuesday, ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger held talks with Syria's foreign minister and the head of the Red Cross' local branch, and was to meet later with the health and interior ministers.

He said before his visit he would appeal for greater access to the sick, wounded and displaced, as well as for the two-hour daily halt to the fighting to allow aid access.

Syrian refugee children pose at the Red Crescent camp in Boynuyogun village, Hatay region on March 25, 2012. The Boynuyogun camp, with 600 tents, holds some 2,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the unrest.
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

Western leaders have cautiously accepted the April 10 deadline, saying Assad's regime must be judged by its actions.

The regime has verbally accepted other peace plans in recent months only to ignore them on the ground. An Arab League effort that included sending in monitors to promote a cease-fire collapsed in violence in November.

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