Syria war: Aid enters Eastern Ghouta despite air strikes

Syria war: Aid enters Eastern Ghouta despite air strikes
From BBC - March 5, 2018

An aid convoy of lorries carrying urgently needed humanitarian supplies has begun entering the rebel-held Syrian area of Eastern Ghouta.

The 46 trucks will be the first to reach the besieged enclave since mid-February, despite a recent UN-backed ceasefire and short, daily truces ordered by Russia.

At least 719 people have been killed in that period, many of them children.

Fourteen civilians died in government air strikes overnight, activists say.

Another 5,640 people have been injured in Eastern Ghouta, an agricultural region east of the capital Damascus, according to a local opposition-run health directorate.

If the convoy of trucks are able to deliver their food and aid supplies to the 27,500 people it is supposed to, it would be a "significant beginning", according to the BBC's Jeremy Bowen.

A World Health Organization official told Reuters that Syrian government officials had removed 70% of the supplies, which included surgical materials and trauma kits, from the trucks before they had left warehouses. This is believed to be part of the government's efforts to ensure rebels are not treated.

President Bashar al-Assad said on state television on Sunday that the offensive against "terrorism" should continue, and he dismissed dire assessments of the humanitarian situation in the enclave as ridiculous lies.

He said he supported a Russian-sponsored daily truce of five hours, to allow "the majority of those in Eastern Ghouta" to escape the areas under the control of "terrorists".

The US has condemned the government assault and said Russia, a key ally of Damascus, is killing innocent civilians.

How bad is the humanitarian situation?

Neither the daily pause ordered by the Russians - Syria's main backers - nor the ordering of a nationwide ceasefire by the UN Security Council have led to any humanitarian relief for the enclave.

The UN says that the "collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable".

Where are people fleeing to?

What is the Syrian government's aim?


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