Aid convoy enters Ghouta amid brief pause in fighting

Aid convoy enters Ghouta amid brief pause in fighting
Thirteen aid trucks crossed into Eastern Ghouta on Friday to deliver the remainder of a humanitarian mission that had been cut short on Monday.
2 min read
09 March, 2018

An aid convoy crossed into Eastern Ghouta on Friday after a brief lull in regime airstrikes, agencies reported.

The aid convoy consists of 13 trucks and food parcels that will assist up to 12,000 people. The delivery is the remainder of a prior humanitarian mission that was cut short due to escalating violence the previous week.

ICRC spokeswoman Indy Sedky said the trucks crossed into Eastern Ghouta “after getting security guarantees from all parties to make sure no incident will happen during the presence of our team”.

The ICRC is now preparing additional supplies to be delivered as part of a larger aid convoy next week.

Since the Syrian regime began its latest Eastern Ghouta offensive on 18 February, nearly all the farmland has been retaken. Only about half of the rebel-held enclave is still under opposition control.

The  UN and aid agencies have pleaded with the Syrian regime and its Russian ally to halt the offensive that has left more than 1,000 civilians dead, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Russia said it opened safe passages for civilians and fighters to leave the enclave, but nobody has done so yet.

Damascus and Moscow accuse rebels of preventing civilians from fleeing the area - a charge they deny

Despite a brief pause in fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that warplanes struck Douma just after aid convoys entered the area. 

The Syrian regime is poised to slice Eastern Ghouta in two as forces advancing from the east link up with those in the west, according to the Observatory.

A pro-regime commander confirmed to Reuters that the enclave had been split in two. But a rebel commander denied the reports and said territory was regained in successful counter-attacks.

Eastern Ghouta's residents expect the enclave to follow a similar trajectory as Eastern Aleppo in 2016 - in which airstrikes followed by a regime offensive led to the area's recapture and heavy civilian casualties.