Syrian Government Delaying Aid and Violating Ceasefire

A United Nation’s convoy is left sitting as the Syrian government continues to delay delivery of the much-needed aid to war-torn regions of Syria, aid that was supposed to be able to move freely under the peace deal.

On Thursday, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura spoke to the press in Geneva, informing them that the Syrian government has not allowed them to move forward and deliver aid, “The government, I repeat the government was expected to provide … permits, authorizations.”

The brokered agreement between Russia and the United States included the cessation of hostilities, which began Monday, with the delivery of humanitarian aid being a part of this agreement. Still, the authorization letters have not been submitted to allow the convoys to proceed.

“It’s particularly regrettable because we are losing time,” said de Mistura.

Under the agreement, the convoy need not obtain formal permission but does need to notify the government. U.N. Special Adviser on Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland reported the government was to issue a letter of authorization to enable the U.N. to deliver aid to besieged regions near Damascus, Homs, Moadamiya, al-Waer, Talbish, and Douma.

The first 72 hours of the ceasefire appeared to have held with almost complete calm, “sources on the ground, which do matter, including inside Aleppo city, said the situation has dramatically improved with no air strikes.”

The third day presented violations of the ceasefire which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Two shells reportedly hit the regions near scientific research areas in regime-controlled Halab al-Jadidah.
  • A sniper hit a child in the Al-Masharqa area, which is also controlled by the regime.
  • A shell fell west of Aleppo on Jam’eyyat al-Zahra’s neighborhood.
  • Four shells hit al-Eis, in the southern region of Aleppo.
  • Bombing resumed with three separate hits on Qebtan al-Jabal, located in northwestern Aleppo.
  • The Syrian government regime opened fire on different areas of the road leading into Kafrnaha the Orem al-Kubra and various regions of Jam’eyyat al-Mohandesin, additional places in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
  • The factions launched four shells at the southwestern areas just along the outer regions of Aleppo.

In addition, the report revealed raids were carried out, fighting between rebels and Islamic State, and several people were injured.

Entering the fourth day of the ceasefire, the Syrian government is not holding up its part of the ceasefire as fighting is again being reported out of Damascus. Regime forces reportedly struck the Jobar neighborhood with six shells. Heavy clashes have been described, “The Syrian army is blocking an attack by armed groups that tried to enter the capital’s east via Jobar… leading to intense clashes and rocket fire,” a military source told AFP.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, shelling and rocket fire is allegedly coming from within the rebel-held Jobar district in eastern Damascus. The group reported over 21 shells and rockets hit different areas of Jobar.

The group is reporting at least two children and an adult civilian has been killed in ceasefire areas since the start of the deal brokered by the U.S. and Russia. At least 23 have been killed by unidentified warplanes outside of the ceasefire areas, half of them being women and children. Approximately 20 remain in critical condition.

Government forces have not withdrawn from Castello road, which leads straight into rebel-held regions of Aleppo. Russian troops have allegedly deployed to replace the regime’s forces. However, according to Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki opposition group, Syrian regime forces remain along the road.

The delays were apparently caused by a “lack of guarantees from all sides of safe and secure access for the convoy,” reported de Mistura and Egeland. “The reason we’re not in eastern Aleppo has again been a combination of very difficult and detailed discussions around security monitoring and passage of roadblocks—which is both opposition and government,” Egeland told Reuters.

The convoys hope to reach the besieged regions of the Syrian capital by Friday.

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