Conflicts & War

Russia defends refusal to extend cross-border UN aid corridor in Syria

Nur-Sultan, Jul 8 (EFE).- Humanitarian aid to Syria should be channeled through the government in Damascus, a Russian diplomat said here Thursday to justify Moscow’s opposition to extending the mandate for the last remaining United Nations corridor on the Turkish border, set to expire on July 10.

“Our position is known, we have always respected international law and humanitarian law, which provide for humanitarian aid to be coordinated with the country’s legitimate authorities,” special envoy Alexander Lavrentiev said after taking part in the 16th Astana process meeting in the Kazakh capital.

“A real and functioning mechanism must be created with the help of the efforts of the international community to deliver aid to all corners of Syria through Damascus,” he said.

In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the round, Russia, Turkey and Iran, the designated guarantors of the cease-fire in Syria, emphasized “the need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization and preconditions.”

Russia has repeatedly threatened to veto any attempt by the UN Security Council to renew the resolution authorizing the delivery of aid via the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border.

A year ago, Russia forced the closure of other humanitarian access points to rebel-held areas in Syria, limiting UN operations to Bab al-Hawa.

Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally, contends that Syria’s northern province of Idlib, bordering Turkey, is largely controlled by terrorists who hold the population “hostage” and commandeer the aid.

The head of the delegation representing Syria’s armed opposition, Ahmad Toma, said the humanitarian situation was “already more than a tragedy.”

“We want Russia not to use the right of veto … because if it does, the tragedy will be even greater and the main artery to save the Syrian people will be blocked,” he said.

Speaking for the Syrian government, Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan said that “the humanitarian tragedy linked to the crossing of humanitarian aid across the borders is a fabricated and false problem.”

“The aid that enters through these channels is less than 5 percent of the total aid needed by Syrians,” he said.

“Syria confirms its position regarding the need to receive this aid so that it reaches the entire national territory without any discrimination. At the same time Syria continues to cooperate with all organizations related to the issue,” Sousan said. EFE kk-cae-fss-aj/lap/dr

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