Syria's main opposition group said Wednesday that foreign military intervention may be the only way to ensure emergency aid can reach those trapped by fighting if talks fail to ensure safe passage for humanitarian workers to reach embattled parts of the country.
A spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council said two separate proposals _ to agree temporary cease-fires and to create humanitarian corridors _ would only succeed if Syrian President Bashar Assad's allies brought pressure to bear on his regime.
"If there is such a commitment from the Russian government we see that that would allow us to avoid the heavy military means that would be needed to protect a safe passage," SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani told reporters in Geneva Wednesday after holding talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Russia, which has opposed harsher international measures to end the Syrian government's crackdown against the opposition, voiced support Wednesday for the Red Cross's suggestion of a daily two-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Syria. But Moscow opposes the creation of so-called humanitarian corridors, saying they could be used to smuggle arms to opposition fighters.
Kodmani said she understood why the Red Cross had focused on calling for aid groups to be given time to bring in emergency supplies and reach those in need of medical help.
But she said the SNC would also be pressing for the "humanitarian corridors" _ allowing aid to be brought in from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey _ at a "Friends of Syria" conference Friday in Tunisia.
"I'm not sure without those passages the ICRC alone will be able to respond to the needs on the ground," she said.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has criticized the idea of humanitarian corridors, saying that potential differences over safe zones could lead to an escalation of violence.
Gatilov criticized the Tunis conference, saying that its organizers made a mistake by failing to invite representatives of the Syrian government. He also blamed unspecified powers for arming the Syrian opposition, saying the weapons deliveries were fueling the conflict.
Russia and China have vetoed two Security Council resolutions backing Arab League plans aimed at ending the conflict and condemning President Assad's crackdown on protests.
Kodmani said time was running out for the world to act.
"There is a humanitarian emergency," she said. "The world has not responded to this emergency adequately. The people in Syria feel abandoned. They feel they are being let down by the world."
The United Nations estimated that 5,400 people have been killed in the 11-month uprising against Assad and his government in the last year. Hundreds more have died since, activists groups say.
The Red Cross says negotiations on humanitarian access with Syrian authorities and opposition groups are at a very early stage.
Jamey Keaten in Paris and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.