GENEVA - A team from the World Health Organization that visited Syria's Homs province last week found a humanitarian situation that is "grave and continues to deteriorate", with one in four residents in need of humanitarian aid, the WHO said on Tuesday.

Homs is a central province that has been a major battleground in the nearly 18-month-old uprising that has pitted rebels against government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Half the province's public hospitals and three-quarters of its private hospitals are out of action and those that remain open are working at reduced capacity and are overwhelmed, Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesman, told a news briefing in Geneva.

He said most doctors had left and that the largest hospital in Homs, with 350 beds, had been completely destroyed.

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