Syrian conflict, UN: new distribution of emergency aid for areas under siege

The Damascus government has given the green light for the delivery of food and basic necessities to seven areas. These include the town of Madaya, where people are dying of starvation. Moscow rejects Ankara’s accusations it bombed hospitals. The UN Security Council criticizes Turkey.


Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Damascus government has given the green light for the delivery of food and basic necessities to some areas under siege. According to reports from the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan of Mistura, the convoys are ready to leave and this expedition is a "test" to see if the various factions are really willing to allow the distribution of aid.

The aid destinations include the town of Madaya, where in recent weeks, reports remerged of people dying of hunger and malnutrition.

Last week, world powers agreed to "cease hostilities" on a national scale and to accelerate and, where possible expand, the delivery of aid. "It is the Syrian government’s responsibility - said de Mistura, after high-level talks in Damascus – that we reach every Syrian citizen, wherever he or she is, and allow the deployment of UN aid."

In the last hours the government headed by President Bashar al-Assad has given its approval for the entry of humanitarian aid convoys into seven areas under siege, under government army control or the grip of the rebel militias. UN sources say there are at least half a million people still living in areas under siege.

The cessation of hostilities, that does not concern jihadist groups like the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, is expected to enter into force at the weekend. However, President Assad expressed doubts about its real effectiveness, noting that it will be "difficult" to apply.

On the battlefield, the Syrian regular army, backed by Russian air raids, continues its northward advance and is ready to lay siege to Aleppo. Meanwhile, the - so far verbal - war continues between Turkey and Russia, with Moscow "categorically rejecting" the allegations launched by Ankara of war crimes for bombing hospitals in Syria, including a Doctors Without Borders center.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that the only evidence that Russia is willing to accept "comes from the Syrian authorities."

Finally, yesterday the United Nations Security Council criticized Turkey for cross-border attacks, in northern Syria, which create even more tension and instability in the country. All council member states agreed to  "ask Turkey to respect international law."