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Red Cross visits Syrian prisoners

Syria has opened its prisons for the first Red Cross visits, the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday.

ICRC officials were allowed to enter the central prison in Damascus on Sunday.

"The Syrian authorities have granted the ICRC access to a place of detention for the first time. Initially, we will have access to persons detained by the interior ministry and we are hopeful that we will soon be able to visit all detainees," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said in a statement issued at the end of a two-day visit to Damascus.

Kellenberger went on to say that the visits were "an important step forward for our humanitarian activities in Syria".

He also said he had urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to ensure that the wounded received medical treatment.

Since June, the ICRC has been able to bring vital supplies to places affected by the violence, including Hama, Idlib, Homs, Latakia and Deraa.

Over the past five months, thousands of activists and other civilians have been arrested in pro-democracy protests. More than 2,200 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. and agencies

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