First Aid of 2018 Reaches Ghouta as US Urges Russia to Push Regime to Peace

First Aid of 2018 Reaches Ghouta as US Urges Russia to Push Regime to Peace

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 19:00
A UN and the Syrian Red Crescent convoy delivers aid packages in the rebel-held town of Nashabieh in Eastern Ghouta. (AFP file photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The first aid convoy since November has been allowed into the rebel-held Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday as the United States called on Russia to use its leverage over the regime to accept peace.

"First United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent inter-agency convoy this year crossed conflict lines to Nashabieh in Eastern Ghouta to deliver food, health and nutrition supplies for 7,200 people in the besieged enclave," the UN humanitarian affairs office said.

The aid comes after intensive bombardment by the regime killed more than 250 civilians last week.

Some 400,000 people live in the enclave outside Damascus where they have been under siege by the regime since 2013, facing severe food and medicine shortages.

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid.

Sweden and Kuwait presented the draft, which would also demands an immediate end to sieges, including on Eastern Ghouta, after regime ally Russia last week rejected as "not realistic" a similar appeal by UN aid officials.

The Security Council met on Syria on Wednesday where US Ambassador Nikki Haley called on Russia to push the regime to accept peace, saying: “Russia can push the regime to commit to seeking a real peace in Syria.”

"Now is the time for Russia to use that leverage," she said, to push the regime of Bashar Assad “to do what it plainly does not want to do."

UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura meanwhile expressed concern over recent escalation in Syria in wake of a confrontation between Israel and Iran, clashes involving US-led coalition forces and fighting escalating in many parts of the country.

"This is as violent and worrying and dangerous a moment as any that I have seen in my time as special envoy," said de Mistura, who has been the peace mediator since 2014.

Next month the war in Syria will enter its eighth year with diplomatic efforts stalled as violence rages on the ground.

With so many battlefronts involving forces from several countries, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "potential for an enlargement of the conflict and a major regional and international confrontation should be taken very seriously."

More than 340,000 people have been killed in the war, millions have been driven from their homes and 13 million Syrians are in need of urgent humanitarian aid.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia complained that "something is being constantly demanded of the Russian Federation" and countered that the United States and its allies should use their influence to ease violence.

A US-led coalition strike against pro-regime forces in Syria in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour last week was an "unprovoked attack," Nebenzia told the council.

Haley earlier said that the coalition had acted in self-defense in the attack that left scores dead.

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