Date
28 July 2017
A man rides a bicycle near a Red Crescent aid convoy in the rebel-held city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus. Syria has opened access to several besieged areas to UN aid trucks. Photo: Reuters
A man rides a bicycle near a Red Crescent aid convoy in the rebel-held city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus. Syria has opened access to several besieged areas to UN aid trucks. Photo: Reuters

Syria to allow aid to besieged areas

United Nations aid convoys are expected to set off for Syria in a few days after the government opened access to seven besieged areas.

The UN wants to test Syria’s commitment to allowing much needed relief into areas devastated by the civil war, Reuters reports, citing special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Mistura won the green light for UN aid trucks during talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem on Monday.

Government forces have been advancing rapidly with the aid of Russian air strikes, just days before an internationally agreed pause in fighting is due to take effect.

De Mistura said they had discussed the issue of humanitarian access to areas besieged by all sides in the five-year war.

“It is clear it is the duty of the government of Syria to want to reach every Syrian person wherever they are and allow the UN to bring humanitarian aid,” de Mistura said in a statement. “Tomorrow we test this.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Syria had approved access to Deir al-Zor; Foua and Kafraya in Idlib; and Madaya, Zabadani, Kafr Batna and Mouadamiya al-Sham in rural Damascus.

“Humanitarian agencies and partners are preparing convoys for these areas, to depart as soon as possible in the coming days,” the OCHA said. It was not immediately clear whether the convoys would begin on Wednesday, as de Mistura had indicated.

Nor was there any indication of a breakthrough on access to areas besieged by armed opposition groups.

UN-backed peace talks are scheduled to resume in Geneva on Feb. 25 after de Mistura suspended a first round earlier this month.

Last Friday global powers meeting in Munich agreed to the pause in fighting in the hope that this could allow the talks to resume, but the deal does not take effect until the end of this week and was not signed by the Syrian warring parties.

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CG/RA

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