Saturday 20 October 2018

Bombing lull allows 2,400 food parcels to reach Ghouta

Syrian children pose for a picture in a makeshift bomb shelter in Douma. Photos: Getty Images
Syrian children pose for a picture in a makeshift bomb shelter in Douma. Photos: Getty Images

Raf Sanchez

A humanitarian convoy entered the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta yesterday morning amid a lull in the ferocious bombardment which has killed more than 900 people.

The convoy of 13 trucks loaded with 2,400 food parcels rolled into the battered rebel-held suburb from regime territory in Damascus.

Left: Humanitarian aid being distributed in Eastern Ghouta. Photo: Getty Images
Left: Humanitarian aid being distributed in Eastern Ghouta. Photo: Getty Images

The convoy was supposed to go into Eastern Ghouta on Thursday but the delivery was called off because of the intensive bombing. The convoy is bringing the remainder of the supplies from a convoy on Monday, which was interrupted mid-delivery by fighting.

The pause in the bombing and the delivery of food will offer some respite to a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped inside Eastern Ghouta.

But residents said they expected the bombardment and the accompanying ground offensive by Syrian regime forces and their allies to resume soon.

The UN Security Council voted on February 28 for a nationwide ceasefire and for the unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas like Eastern Ghouta.

Neither the Russian nor the Syrian regime has complied with the resolution, drawing angry words but little action from Western countries. The regime assault on Eastern Ghouta began on February 18 and has continued almost ceaselessly for nearly three weeks.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that strikes had stopped in the early hours of yesterday morning, giving residents their calmest night in some time.

Hopeful

Ingy Sedky, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the group was hopeful they could make a larger aid delivery next week.

"We also have some positive indications that a bigger convoy with additional supplies, including medical items, might happen next week," she said.

The Syrian regime reportedly stripped Monday's convoy of trauma kits and other medical supplies before allowing it to enter rebel areas. Hadi al-Bahra, a member of the Syrian Negotiation Commission, an opposition umbrella group, said that some of the food that reached Eastern Ghouta had been spoiled by delays in getting through.

Syrian regime troops and allied Shia militias have captured several districts in the east of the opposition-held pocket and are moving to sever the last corridor of territory connecting the northern and southern parts.

If Eastern Ghouta is divided in two by Assad's troops it would leave the Failaq al-Rahman rebel group in control of the southern portion, along with several smaller factions, while the Army of Islam, an Islamist rebel group, would retain control of Douma and the northern area.

Irish Independent

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