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UN Aid Reaches Syrians Under Siege Near Damascus

  • Chris Hannas

Staff from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent get ready to accompany a convoy of humanitarian aid as it waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadimayet al-Sham in the Damascus countryside, as part of a U.N.-sponsored aid operation, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

Staff from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent get ready to accompany a convoy of humanitarian aid as it waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadimayet al-Sham in the Damascus countryside, as part of a U.N.-sponsored aid operation, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

More than 100 U.N. trucks have delivered desperately needed food, medicine and other humanitarian relief to five Syrian towns under siege by Syrian forces or rebels.

Nearly 100,000 sick and starving men, women and children will now be fed and treated under an agreement between the Syrian government and the United Nations.

The trucks reached Moadimayet al-Sham, a rebel-held town near Damascus encircled by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Other vehicles reached Fuaa and Kafraya, two Shi'ite towns in northwestern Idlib province besieged by rebels, while U.N. trucks also entered Madaya and Zabadani, two other towns near Damascus under siege by Syrian forces.

A convoy of humanitarian aid waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadimayet al-Sham in the Damascus countryside, as part of a U.N.-sponsored aid operation, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

A convoy of humanitarian aid waits in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) offices before making their way into the government besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadimayet al-Sham in the Damascus countryside, as part of a U.N.-sponsored aid operation, in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Wednesday in Damascus that these deliveries would be a test of the government's commitment to allow the United Nations to bring humanitarian aid directly to people trapped by the war.

Syria's Foreign Ministry shot back at those comments, saying it did not need reminders about its responsibilities.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for all parties in the five-year-long Syrian conflict to allow unhindered humanitarian access.

U.N. officials estimate 13.5 million people still in Syria need humanitarian assistance. Another 4.6 million Syrians have fled the country as refugees since early 2011.

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