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Aid Convoy to Besieged Area Comes Under Fire in Syria


This image provided by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent shows the aftermath of an attack on a humanitarian aid convoy that came under fire shortly before dark Saturday, June 17, 2017, outside Damascus, Syria.

A convoy delivering aid to a besieged opposition area outside Syria's capital has come under attack, seriously wounding a driver of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and thwarting the first such mission to the area in eight months, aid groups said Sunday.

The 37-truck convoy, jointly organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations, was to deliver food and medicine to 11,000 people in the town of East Harasta.

An aid worker and a local council in east Harasta said the delivery had already been aborted before the convoy came under attack. The aid worker spoke on condition of anonymity because of regulations against speaking publicly to the media.

In a posting on its Facebook page, the Local Council of Harasta said that after the convoy arrived at the town's entrance, government officials said the necessary tools to remove sand berms were not available. The local council said the convoy was forced to turn back before coming under fire from a sniper.

The opposition-run council blamed the shooting on government forces. There was no immediate word from the government.

The ICRC said the convoy came under fire shortly before dark Saturday outside Damascus. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent said one of the truck drivers was severely wounded and is undergoing surgery.

The ICRC said it needs renewed security guarantees before it can send another convoy to the area.

Some 600,000 Syrians live under siege in different areas, mostly trapped by government forces, according to the U.N.

To the west of Harasta, activists reported at least 12 airstrikes on the Jobar neighborhood in Damascus, with no immediate word on casualties. The government has intensified its strikes on Jobar, the last rebel-held neighborhood in the capital. The opposition-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported 45 airstrikes there since Thursday.