Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria Ceasefire ‘Clinically Dead’ as Aleppo Aid Remains Blocked | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55358621

A rebel fighter walks by damaged buildings near Castello road in Aleppo, Syria September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

The U.N.’s humanitarian chief said Monday he was “pained” that aid convoys had not deployed to eastern Aleppo in Syria, as a week-long ceasefire in the country was described by a senior opposition as “clinically dead.”

The delivery of desperately needed supplies to Aleppo’s rebel-held east and besieged areas across the country was a key component of the truce agreed by the United States and Russia that came into force last week.

But U.N. trucks carrying life-saving supplies destined for Aleppo have been stuck in a buffer zone between the Turkish and Syrian borders since early last week.

“I am pained and disappointed that a United Nations convoy has yet to cross into Syria from Turkey, and safely reach eastern Aleppo, where up to 275,000 people remain trapped without food, water, proper shelter or medical care,” said a statement from Stephen O’Brien, who heads the U.N.’s humanitarian office (OCHA).

The U.S.-Russia deal included specific measures aimed at getting aid into eastern Aleppo.

The pact called for Syrian troops to withdraw from the Castello Road supply route into the city, which regime forces seized in early July, cutting off aid to Aleppo’s east.

The U.N. has said its trucks would not roll until Washington and Moscow signaled that the Castello Road was clear and safe.

Addressing the U.N. rights council on Monday, the head of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, sounded a further call for “unimpeded, sustained and rapid humanitarian access to all those in need.”

“Roadblocks made of red tape are just as effective as roadblocks made of weapons of war,” he told the council.

Meanwhile, fears mounted Monday that the fragile truce was failing.

George Sabra of the High Negotiations Committee told The Associated Press that the truce has been repeatedly violated and did not succeed in opening roads for aid to enter besieged rebel-held areas.

“Hundreds of thousands of people in Aleppo are waiting for this truce to allow aid to enter the city,” he said, adding that there are aid trucks still waiting on the Turkey-Syria border. “I believe that the truce is clinically dead.”

On Monday, the opposition reported 254 violations by regime forces and their allies since the truce started on Sept. 12. Syrian state media said there were 32 violations by rebels on Sunday alone.

Regime ally Russia and the U.S., which backs some opposition groups, have blamed each other for cracks in the ceasefire.

Moscow and Damascus have blasted Washington over airstrikes that killed scores of Syrian regime troops on Saturday in Deir Ezzor, which is partly held by ISIS.

The Pentagon has conceded that Syrian troops may have been hit in the raid targeting ISIS.

Syria’s envoy to the U.N. in Geneva, Hussam Edin Aala, charged in the rights council that the U.S. strikes were “planned and deliberate.”

Also Monday, a planned evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from al-Waer, the opposition’s last foothold in Homs city, has been postponed from Monday until Tuesday, an official in Homs province said.

“It has been postponed until tomorrow,” the official told Reuters.

The governor of Homs said on Sunday that between 250 and 300 fighters had been expected to leave under a deal with the regime.