It is the second time in a week that the ICRC has been forced to turn back to Damascus. On June 21st, its joint team with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent heard shooting as it tried to enter the old city where the agency says hundreds of civilians are trapped by fighting.
ICRC spokesman Bijan Farnoudi in Geneva declined to provide specifics or apportion blame for the latest setback after the two sides agreed in principle to a humanitarian truce. In a statement the agency said:
"The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are virtually the only humanitarian organisations working in the hardest-hit areas in the country, and safe and unhindered access is thus essential to their work. ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams take considerable risks performing their tasks,"