GENEVA (Reuters) - Fighting has been so intense in parts of Syria that at times the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has qualified as a localized civil war, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said that hotspots such as Homs earlier this year and the northern town of Idlib more recently, have met the humanitarian agency's three criteria for the definition of a non-international armed conflict - intensity, duration and the level of organization of rebels fighting government forces.
"It can be a situation of internal armed conflict in certain areas, an example was the fighting in Baba Amr in Homs in February," Kellenberger told Reuters, making clear that the situation did not apply to the entire country.
He also said that ICRC officials would visit detainees at Aleppo central prison from May 14-23, its second prison visit ever in Syria, as agreed with authorities during his last visit in early April.
Kellenberger said he remained very worried about the situation in Syria, where U.N. observers are monitoring a shaky ceasefire between government forces and rebels declared on April 12.
"I really hope that the U.N. observers will deploy rapidly, not only in Damascus, rapidly in different places," Kellenberger told a news briefing in Geneva. "But I still hope it will work."
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jon Boyle)