UN aid to Syria to continue through two crossings of Turkey

UN aid to Syria to continue through two crossings of Turkey

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
UN aid to Syria to continue through two crossings of Turkey

People watch clean-up in Idlib city center after it was hit by airstrikes on Jan. 11. (AP Photo)

The U.N. Security Council on Jan. 12 renewed a cross-border aid operation into Syria for another six months and only from two border crossings with Turkey in the northwest of the war-torn country not controlled by President Bashar al-Assad.

A Turkish official speaking to Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity has said that Ankara made efforts in cooperation with the U.S. to include Akçakale border crossing across Tal Abyad in the UNSC mission, but that the proposal was declined, recalling that Russia wants the regime-controlled border crossings for the U.N. aid.

The U.N. Security Council failed last month to extend the cross-border authorization after permanent members China and Russia vetoed one draft resolution.

With 11 votes in favor, none against, and with four of its permanent members – abstaining – China, Russia, United States, and the United Kingdom – the council re-authorized only two of the four existing border crossings (Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey) for a period of six months. Previously, assistance had been extended by a year and at four border crossings with Turkey, Iraq (Al Yarubiyah) and Jordan (al-Ramtha).

At the moment, Turkey keeps the Tal Abyad crossing open and Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) teams reach the region with the aid materials to support those in need, the official added.

The main point of contention in the weeks-long debate was Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.

Germany, Belgium, and Kuwait were the sponsors of the resolution for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq. But the competing resolution from Russia advocated ending U.N. aid delivery at the crossing in Iraq.

The U.S. was making efforts including crossings in Akçakale and Al Yarubiyah but later put all stakes in Iraq crossing, according to the official who noted Washington attached priority delivery of humanitarian aid in the east of Euphrates.

The YPG group dominates the east of the Euphrates in the south of Turkey-controlled “Operation Peace Spring” area and the group is the ally of U.S. in Syria.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council in November that 4 million people across northern Syria are supported by U.N. cross-border humanitarian assistance.

He said the U.N. provided 1.1 million people with food through cross-border deliveries in October, double the number in January. Since 2014, he said, the U.N. has sent nearly 30,000 trucks of humanitarian assistance across the four border-crossings.

“There is no alternative to the cross-border operation,’’ Lowcock said.

Since 2014, the council has authorized aid convoys through four crossings — Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey, Al Yarubiyah in Iraq, and Al-Ramtha in Jordan — but the mandate for these operations expired on Jan. 10.

Syrian regime airstrikes kill 17 civilians in Idlib despite truce
Syrian regime airstrikes kill 17 civilians in Idlib despite truce