Syrian government extends permission for limited UN aid

UN Trucks in Syria
(File photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — The Syrian government has extended permission for the UN to deliver aid to opposition-controlled areas via two Turkish border crossings for a further three months, as it continues to attempt to establish control over badly needed UN assistance. They confirmed the extension in the Syrian mission to the UN in New York.اضافة اعلان

Damascus has been allowing the UN to dispatch aid to the opposition-held northwest using the two border crossings from Turkey for three months. In July, the government’s ally, Russia, blocked UN authorization to extend the use of a separate crossing – a lifeline for those living in the region – for nine months without the permission of the Syrian government, Al-Jazeera News reported.

Earthquake relief
The move comes as a United States exemption that allowed some transactions linked to humanitarian assistance into the country expired. The exemption was introduced after earthquakes killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria in February.

Following the earthquakes, the US and the European Union issued sanctions waivers to pave the way for more aid into Syria.

While humanitarian assistance is exempt from sanctions, the waivers aimed to combat the chilling effect of the measures that made some banks and companies wary of dealing with Syria.

The EU has extended its waiver until February 24, but the broad US authorization – known as a license – expired on Tuesday.

US authorizations facilitating the work of aid groups and the UN remain in effect, the spokesperson said.

Opposition’s fears
In July, the Syrian government said that the use of Bab al-Hawa for UN aid depended on “full cooperation and coordination with the government”, and the UN not communicating with “terrorist organizations” – a term often used by Damascus to refer to most groups opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrians who fled al-Assad’s rule fear he may soon be able to choke off badly needed aid as Damascus acts to establish sway over UN assistance into the rebel-held northwest, the last major bastion of the Syrian opposition.

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