Tuesday 21 November 2017

Irishman blocked from entering Syrian city after rebels gain control

Tim Jackson pictured in Aleppo
Tim Jackson pictured in Aleppo

Greg Harkin

An Irishman is among a group of aid workers now blocked from entering the Syrian city of Aleppo after rebels gained control of one of the last routes into the war torn city.

Tim Jackson, from Ballybofey, Co Donegal, spoke to independent.ie from outside the city as Russian and Syrian air force crews bombarded rebel positions today.

Jackson said he and his co-workers in the French NGO SOS Chreitien d'Orient would have to wait and see if the road is taken back from rebel groups.

The organisation has been working to help Christians and other groups caught up in the Syrian civil war.

"It's difficult to say if we will make it into Aleppo,” said Jackson.

“There are people in there who are in desperate need of help, but at the moment it's not possible to get anywhere near the city."

Jackson has just left Damascus where SOS Chrétiens d'Orient helped refugees re-build houses and distribute food aid in an effort to curb the humanitarian crisis currently gripping the country.

Alexandre Goodarzy, Head of Mission with the group in Syria, said, "We really appreciate that people like Tim are willing to help.

"We must give our time and presence to this conflict, it's a big testimony, and it's greatly appreciated by those who are suffering here. There is a time when we must do something. You have to take a stand, and act. Ours is a humanitarian response. The worst thing is to do nothing.

"If the jihadi's have their way, Syria will be destroyed and broken into regions. This would be a disaster for minorities, such as the Christians. Our work is to not let Syria be divided or lose its identity, or to force innocent Syrians flee their own country."

A rebel coalition in Aleppo claims to have re-taken large parts of the city.

The Syrian regime has denied the claims but has responded today with air strikes.

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