Damascus - Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, began her visit in Damascus late this morning with a meeting with the Syrian foreign minister. Her mission is to convince the Syrian government to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of clashes between rebels and Syrian security forces, especially in Homs, where the International Red Cross is still banned.
For its part, the international community continues to discuss a possible armed intervention in Syria, something US President Barak Obama reject today. For him, the fall of the Assad is only a matter of time; any attack against the Syrian regime would instead threaten the entire Middle East. In his view, the focus must be on dialogue.
Obama's stance now appears at odds with the pro-intervention approach of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Although one of the most inflexible dictatorships in the region, the latter has called for arming the rebels in order to defend human rights.
In Syria, fighting between rebels and regular troops continues. After bombing Homs, the army has gone on the offensive in Daraa, a town on the border with Lebanon where protests against President Assad began a year ago.
Opposition sources describe fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces. Like in Homs, the latter are using the airplanes to bomb neighbourhoods and villages that have gone over to the rebels.
The fiercest combat is in the upper Bekaa Valley. After an operation that lasted a whole day, the army destroyed the bridge on the Orontes River, the main route of escape for more than 2,000 refugees who poured across the border into Lebanon in the last few days.
Although bombing stopped in Homs, 23 people were killed in the city. Local sources say that the government is sending bulldozers to clean up Bab Amr district ahead of Ms Amos' visit. The area, which the brunt of the fighting, is littered with bodies and rubbles.
Today's Syria's state news agency SANA reported that President Bashar al- Assad is prepared to concede democratic reforms but that he would continue the fight against the terrorist forces that threaten the country.
In Lebanon, Maronite Patriarch Mgr Bechara Rai is worried about the situation in Syria, which increasingly affecting Lebanon. Along with Turkey, Syria's neighbour has received tens of thousands of refugees in the past few months, many of them Christians.
In a recent interview, the prelate said that the Church is in favour of the change that is sweeping the Arab world, as long as it does not turn into violence, war and death.
However, the spring "is turning to winter," Rai said. "How can it be an Arab Spring when people are being killed every day?" he added. For him, change also cannot come with an outside military intervention.
"Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding," he said. "It's true that the Syrian Baath regime is an extreme and dictatorial regime but there are many others like it in the Arab world."
"All regimes in the Arab world have Islam as a state religion, except for Syria," which "stands out for not saying it is an Islamic state." In his view, it is the "closest thing to democracy" in the Arab world.
The Church, Mgr Rai said, does not defend the regime but it is sorry that despite the possibility of democratic reform, the situation has turned to war and destruction, also fomented by Muslim extremists who can be found among the rebels and who use a language of violence.