United Nations pleads for Syria aid access after truce extended

Sep 19, 2016, 01:00

The ceasefire, which began on Monday, expires in 72 hours but both Russian Federation and the United States say they hope all sides can extend it beyond the first week.

The spokesman pointed out that "only the Syrian Army adheres to the silence regime" in the three days since its enforcement following the September 9 announcement in Geneva by the Russian and U.S. diplomats.

"If the regime withdraws 500m, east and west (of the road). then the guys will be able to withdraw a bit", said Malahifji. The agreement has not been made public but officials familiar with it have told The Associated Press it contains a highly technical series of requirements for both Assad's government and opposition forces.

Earlier Friday, Russia said that only Moscow and the Syrian regime were fulfilling the truce deal.

In Geneva, the U.N.'s envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, called humanitarian access the "second dividend" of the U.S. -Russia cease-fire deal, after tapering violence.

Speaking in Geneva, de Mistura blamed Assad's government for the delay.

The UN had hoped that 40 trucks of food - enough to feed 80,000 people for one month - could be delivered to besieged rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo as soon as possible.

In Washington, a United States official said the session was canceled because the Russians were trying to force the USA to make the ceasefire deal public. "It is particularly regrettable ... These are days which we should have used for convoys to move with the permit to go because there is no fighting".

"The regime has not withdrawn from the area", Zakaria Malahifji of the Aleppo-based Fastaqim rebel group told Reuters.

"Our appeal is the following - it's a simple one", Mr Egeland said.

The cease-fire has led to greater calm since it began Monday night, though violence continues and the first three civilians were killed Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also reported the government was leaving the area. United Nations officials have blamed the delay on the Syrian government, which has failed to provide the agency with the necessary permits to bring relief convoys from Turkey.

"Today the withdrawal is supposed to happen, with aid entering tomorrow".

"The United States will not compromise operational security", the official said.

Churkin said Russian Federation was working on a draft Security Council resolution that would endorse the deal.

Syrian troops withdrew from a main road leading to the besieged rebel-held part of the city for hours before returning to their positions later Friday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. But right now, amid the continuing tensions, they are going nowhere.

No access to Castello Road means no aid to areas badly hit in Aleppo.

Russian officials have said the Syrian military is ready to pull out of the highway to allow safe passage of humanitarian aid into the city, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Forces loyal to the Syrian government took over the road in July, and opposition fighters' attempts to retake it have failed. The report said two people guarding the location were wounded. It also said three shells were fired at the government-held southern village of Hadar.

The Syrian army said the bombardment "clearly set the scene for a terrorist attack by Daesh on the position and controlling it", using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The Pentagon said on Friday that the coalition had killed a senior Islamic State leader, Wa'il Salman al-Fayad, in an air strike last week near the group's de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

"We know that there's at least a quarter of a million people in eastern Aleppo who are potentially all of them in need of some kind of aid", United Nations humanitarian office spokesman Jens Laerke said.

According to USA officials, if Russian Federation and the regime fulfill their obligations under the arrangement, Washington and Moscow will hold bilateral talks on potential military cooperation against Daesh and also Nusrah Front, which recently detached itself with al-Qaeda and rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

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