Planned aid convoy to Syria postponed

Ghouta aid postponed as Syria regime presses assault

Ghouta aid postponed as Syria regime presses assault

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last major rebel-held enclaves in Syria, which has been ravaged by war for nearly seven years.

The state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV station on Wednesday broadcast live shots from the region, showing dense columns of smoke rising above the town as explosions and jets could be heard flying overhead.

But Moscow accused the rebels of having attacked two Syrian army checkpoints, causing casualties and further holding up aid deliveries.

UN News spoke to Marwa Awad, communications officer for the World Food Programme (WFP), based in the Syrian capital, who said the escalation and fighting in besieged and hard-to-reach areas has paralysed the UN's response and WFP's ability to reach those who desperately need help. According to human rights groups, more than 900 civilians have been killed there in the last 18 days and the Red Cross has held back an aid convoy because of the intense fighting. Russia's military by its own admission is playing a key role supporting the assault.

Renewed shelling of Eastern Ghouta is putting a humanitarian aid convoy that entered the besieged rebel enclave on Friday at risk, the United Nations said.

Rebels have also dismissed a Russian offer that would allow them to evacuate Eastern Ghouta, Reuters reported. "People have grown exhausted of militants' lawlessness, they complain of unbearable conditions and are ready to leave the de-escalation zone even bypassing the established humanitarian corridor", he added.

A UN-passed resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria was the target of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, due to Syrian government forces' disregard of the truce in their continued attacks on Ghouta, saying, "God curse your resolution". Shortly after the aid convoy crossed into the enclave on Friday, however, the monitor said air attacks had resumed. The United Nations had hoped to deliver the outstanding aid on Thursday. "Our security guarantees remain in place", he said.

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The Security Council was expected to meet Wednesday to address the stillborn cease-fire.

However, a spokesperson of one of the rebel groups in the enclave denied the claim.

"5.8 million Syrians are on the move, whether externally or internally. and half of this is children, so children are affected most", Fore said.

Since January 20, Turkey-led rebels have pressed an assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the north of the country.

Fore warned that malnourishment "is now more worrying for us than ever".

Meanwhile, Russia's military said a general was among 39 people killed in the crash of a Russian military transport plane in Syria.

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