Iran, Arab states lead charge delivering aid to Syria despite western blockade
Western states say they have no plans to coordinate aid deliveries with Damascus and will instead 'continue doing what has proven effective over the course of the past dozen years'
By News Desk - February 07 2023

Residents rescue an injured girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Jandaris, Syria, on 6 February, 2023. (Photo credit: Rami al Sayed/AFP/Getty Images)

International aid for Syria has begun pouring into the country following a powerful earthquake on 6 February that devastated the country’s northwest region and left at least 1,444 dead.

In the early hours of 7 February, the first Iranian plane carrying humanitarian aid landed at Damascus International Airport, as the Iranian ambassador to Syria confirmed Tehran would send more planes carrying aid relief.

Other states from West Asia and North Africa that have already delivered aid to Syria include Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also held a phone conversation with his Syrian counterpart in which he expressed “his sincere condolences for the victims of the devastating earthquake” and reaffirmed Cairo’s solidarity with Damascus. The Egyptian leader also directed officials “to provide all possible aid and relief assistance.”

On Tuesday, Lebanon announced it was sending structural engineers, soldiers, paramedics, and handlers with trained search dogs to the neighboring country, hours after a 100-strong Algerian civil protection team arrived in Aleppo.

Russian rescue teams from the Emergencies Ministry are also set to arrive in Syria to help clear search and rescue efforts, while the Russian military has already deployed 10 units comprising 300 soldiers to help clear debris and search for survivors.

“In the nearest hours, rescuers from the Russian emergency ministry will take off for Syria,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday, adding, “Bashar al-Assad gratefully accepted this offer.”

The outpour of support comes despite the difficulties caused by western sanctions imposed on Syria, as a majority of western states simply paid lip service to the devastation in the country, making offers of preconditioned help.

On Monday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that Washington plans to deliver aid to Syria through western-backed NGOs operating in northern Syria without engaging with the government in Damascus.

“It would be quite ironic – if not even counterproductive – for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now … Instead, we have humanitarian partners on the ground who can provide the type of assistance in the aftermath of these tragic earthquakes,” the White House official said.

“Now that its people are suffering even more, we’re going to continue doing what has proven effective over the course of the past dozen years or so – providing significant amounts of humanitarian assistance to partners on the ground,” Price added.

His statements came despite Syria pleading with all UN member states to help with rescue efforts, health services, shelter, and food for those affected in a region divided between government-held territory and the last opposition-held enclave.

Syrian ambassador to the UN Bassam Sabbagh confirmed that any aid provided to Syria would reach the entire population after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“We are ready to work with everyone who wants to provide assistance to the Syrians in all parts of Syria,” he stressed, adding that “whoever wants to help Syria can coordinate with the government, and we will be ready to do so.”

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