Syria earthquake aid held up by HTS 'approval issues': UN spokesperson
Earthquake aid from regime-held parts of Syria into territory controlled by hardline opposition groups has been held up by approval issues with Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a United Nations spokesperson told Reuters on Sunday.
The Syrian regime last week said it was willing to send aid into the northern zone, which is largely held by the hardline Islamist HTS and was devastated by Monday's earthquake.
A spokesperson for the UN's humanitarian aid office told Reuters "there are issues with approval" by HTS, without giving further information.
A UN spokesperson in Damascus declined to comment, saying the UN "continues to work with relevant parties to have access to the area."
There was no immediate response from the HTS media office to a request for comment.
An HTS source in Idlib told Reuters the group would not allow any shipments from government-held parts of Syria and that aid would be coming in from Turkey to the north.
"Turkey has opened all the roads and we won't allow the regime to take advantage of the situation to show they are helping," the source said.
The hostilities that criss-cross Syria, shattered by nearly 12 years of conflict, are an added challenge for aid workers trying to get help to people affected by the earthquake that has killed more than 28,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
An aid convoy from Syria's Kurdish-led northeastern region carrying fuel and other aid was also turned back on Thursday from the northwest, where Turkey-backed rebels reign.
The European Union's envoy to Syria on Sunday urged authorities in Damascus to "engage in good faith" with aid workers to get help to those in need.
"It is important to allow unimpeded access for aid to arrive in all areas where it is needed," Dan Stoenescu told Reuters.
"Entering a fake blame game is not constructive and does not help us deliver aid to those in so much need and distress in a more timely manner. On the contrary," he added.