Red Cross barred from key Syria town during battle

ZEINA KARAM
Associated Press
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This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Council of Barzeh, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows destroyed homes from government airstrikes and shelling, in the Barzeh district of Damascus, Syria, Saturday, June 1, 2013. More than a dozen rockets and mortar rounds fired from Syria struck eastern Lebanon on Saturday, security officials said, as tensions escalated along the Lebanese-Syria border over the increasing role of Hezbollah militants in the civil war next door. (AP Photo/Local Council of Barzeh)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's state-run news agency says the country's foreign minister has told U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that humanitarian aid won't be allowed into an embattled rebel-held Syrian town until the fighting there is over.

The SANA news agency say U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday to express concern over the situation in the town of Qusair.

The regime launched an offensive against Qusair three weeks ago and has gained ground, though rebels have defended some positions.

On Saturday, the International Committee of the Red Cross and U.N. humanitarian agencies called for a cease-fire, expressing alarm over the fate of thousands of civilians believed to be trapped there, including many wounded.

SANA says al-Moallem told Ban the Red Cross and others will be able to enter Qusair "after the end of military operations there."