Syria approves aid delivery to opposition-held north
The deliveries will be jointly supervised and coordinated by the Syrian Red Crescent and the ICRC, in order to ensure that aid reaches those in need
By News Desk - February 11 2023

(Photo credit: SARC/Twitter)

Syrian media reported on 10 February that Damascus has approved the distribution of aid across opposition-held areas of north and northwest Syria, which along with other government-controlled areas of the country, were decimated in the earthquake days earlier.

According to the state-affiliated SANA news outlet, the Council of Ministers announced on Friday the distribution of aid to the opposition-held north, which will be carried out under the joint supervision and coordination of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) – aiming to “guarantee the arrival of this aid to those who need it.”

UN aid deliveries usually enter opposition-held territory through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkiye, or through the areas under the control of Damascus. However, no aid has been sent from government-held territory to the areas of the opposition in around three weeks.

On 9 February, the first UN aid convoy made its way into northwestern Syria from Turkiye – consisting of six trucks. A day later, a second convoy consisting of 14 trucks made its way in.

Despite the delay of this aid – which has resulted in some frustration – the opposition held north has received millions in foreign donations so far through organizations such as the Molham Volunteering Team, who have been accused of misappropriating aid in the past. Others receiving donations from abroad are the western-backed White Helmets – an Al-Qaeda linked rescue team who have been implicated in false-flag chemical attacks and organ trafficking networks.

According to Al-Mayadeen news outlet, since the disaster struck, the US-based GoFundMe NGO has announced donations of over $100,000 for the White Helmets. At the same time, however, GoFundMe has been cancelling the fundraising campaigns of local Syrians in government-held areas affected by the quake.

Syria’s need to guarantee that the aid reaches those in need is due to deep mistrust between the government and groups such as the White Helmets and because anti-government militants in Syria have been known to hoard and misappropriate foreign aid.

The White Helmets have been heavily involved in relief efforts across the affected areas of northwestern Syria.

Syria’s announcement of the approval of aid to the north came on the same day that Washington decided to issue a temporary sanctions-waiver for countries to provide aid to government-held territory, as since the earthquake, sanctions have made it extremely difficult to send aid to a majority of the population. This is despite the fact that US officials had been claiming that sanctions did not restrict aid.

Those countries who sent aid to Syria prior to waiver did so in defiance of the Caesar Act, which since 2019 has prohibited any individual, company, or state from dealing with the Damascus government, much to the detriment of the country’s people.

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