UN aid reaches Idlib through Syrian regime-held Aleppo: sources

UN aid reaches Idlib through Syrian regime-held Aleppo: sources
The World Food Programme has reportedly brought desperately needed food supplies from Aleppo to Idlib.
3 min read
31 August, 2021
World Food Program aid is critical for Idlib's civilians [Getty-file photo]

UN aid reached Syria's Idlib province from Assad regime-held territory in Aleppo on Monday, in a rare move for a region dependent on food supplies coming via neighbouring Turkey.

Three trucks carrying food arrived via the Bab Al-Hawa crossing at the Turkish border, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported, according to local informants.

They then passed through the Miznaz crossing, which marks the frontier between territories held by the Syrian regime and rebels in the northwest of Syria.

The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS)-linked Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib issued a statement on Telegram on Monday, saying "two trucks bearing the Syrian Red Crescent logo entered from regime-controlled areas to the liberated areas".

However, the Red Crescent's possible involvement is not clear, since the SSG later said these are United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) trucks.

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Its development ministry also asserted the lorries were WFP-owned and claimed the Red Crescent is uninvolved in the aid drop and its logo did not appear on the trucks.

The SSG said a further "convoy" would arrive "in the coming hours".

The SSG development ministry said the WFP is sending "15 trucks moving 12,000 food rations" as the UN scheme transfers stock stored in Aleppo to Idlib.

Some of the supplies "belonging to some of the international humanitarian organisations will be moved from Syrian regime-controlled areas in Aleppo to the liberated areas", the SSG claimed.

It said the supplies "will be distributed… to all areas according to an agreed plan".

This is said to be an additional five percent of the total food supplied via the Bab Al-Hawa Turkish border crossing, the sole entry point open for UN assistance to the country's rebel-controlled northwest.

Despite this, the HTS controlled-government ministry said the WFP's move did not suggest the "opening of a humanitarian crossing".

Jusoor Centre for Studies and Development researcher Firas Faham told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that "the introduction of aid from regime-controlled areas to northwest Syria, accompanied by the Syrian Red Crescent, is a clear indication of the strengthening role of the Syrian regime in humanitarian matters".

He said the movement coincided with a visit to Damascus by the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

Faham said greater involvement for the regime over aid "was [Assad ally] Russia's fundamental demand in return for agreeing with the decision to keep allowing humanitarian aid to enter Syria via the Security Council".

This is an apparent reference to July's crunch decision at the United Nations Security Council to continue permitting the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing to remain open to UN assistance.

Two other points for aid were previously shut in 2020 after Moscow and Beijing blocked their continued use at the UN.