(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could provide help to those affected by the 18-month-long conflict, provided it “works in a neutral and independent way.”
Syria’s state media, which reported al-Assad’s remarks, said the embattled president met with the ICRC’s top official in Damascus for what was described as a constructive meeting.
Up to now, the Red Cross has had a mixed success in treating those left injured or homeless by the fighting in Syria, which has become a growing humanitarian crisis.
A Red Cross spokesman said that Tuesday’s talks with al-Assad focused on “issues related to the protection of the civilian population during the conduct of hostilities, such as the importance of access to health care and basic necessities, and also visits to persons detained in Syria.”
The international organization is working with the Syrian government’s version called the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to step up the humanitarian response amid an ever-widening war that has left tens of thousands of people dead over the past 18 months.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Don Melvin and Greg Botelho, CNN Newswire
Andreas Preuss and Joe Sutton, CNN