Middle East

Relief supplies reach Syria's Aleppo

Aid agencies deliver aid after ceasefire for several hours was agreed by Syrian government forces and the opposition.

Last updated: 11 Apr 2014 20:43
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The last time UNHCR managed to get food, water and medicine into Aleppo was in June last year [Reuters]

Relief supplies have been allowed into a besieged part of the Syrian city of Aleppo after a pact between opposing sides allowed the UN refugee agency and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) into the area.

The supplies were delivered earlier this week, according to the Reuters news agency. 

Two trucks packed with blankets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and food arrived at a checkpoint at the eastern outskirts of the city before being delivered to the needy by more than 50 hand pulled carts, Reuters reported.

Residents trapped in the opposition-held area by fighting between Syrian government forces and rebel units suffer from acute shortages of food, water, medicine and basic supplies. 

The supplies, shown in an UNHCR video released on Friday (April 11) arrived on Tuesday (April 8) and the slow moving convoy of carts was accompanied by UNHCR and SARC staff waving flags to ensure a safe passage through the heavily contested area.

The last time UNHCR had managed to get supplies into the area, which has an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies was in June last year.

The pre-arranged ceasefire lasted four hours.

Fierce infighting

Meanwhile, the death toll from fierce infighting between rival Islamic rebel groups in eastern Syria has risen to at least 68 fighters, an opposition group said, while government shelling left at least four teenagers dead in a town in the country's west.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said battles were still raging on Friday, for a second day, around Bukamal town in the oil-rich Deir Ez Zor province near the Iraqi border.

Rebels from the al-Qaeda breakaway group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and fighters of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other groups have been fighting each other in the province for weeks over territory they previously captured together from President Bashar Assad's forces, including oil-fields.

It was the latest episode in a relentless cycle of blood and violence that has gripped the country since March 2011, when the uprising against Assad's rule began.

Syria's conflict began three years ago with largely peaceful protests calling for reform, and later for Assad to be toppled.

Al-Qaeda-linked goups, with foreign fighters in their ranks, have played an increasingly prominent role, dampening support from the West.

Thousands of fighters have been killed in rebel-against-rebel violence that intensified beginning of the year, particularly in northern and eastern Syria.

Overall, more than 150,000 people have been killed in the past three years, opposition activists say.


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